TOKYO– A Japanese foundation announced Monday that it is launching a fundraising campaign to provide more than 1,200 Ukrainians evacuated to Japan with additional financial support for language studies and other needs.
Jumpei Sasakawa, executive director of the Nippon Foundation, said it aims to raise 1 billion yen ($7.4 million) through cooperation with the US and Ukrainian ambassadors.
The foundation has already pledged 5 billion yen ($37 million) for transportation and living expenses for Ukrainian evacuees. Japan has so far accepted more than 1,200 Ukrainians displaced by war since the Russian invasion in late February.
Sasakawa said he was approached by US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who asked him to allow ordinary Japanese people to help support Ukrainian evacuees.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsk, who joined Sasakawa and Emanuel at a press conference, urged Japanese people to view donations to the fund as “Japan’s investment in a nation that will always be your friend. “. He said Ukrainians in Japan will be “a bridge between our countries” when Ukraine is ready to rebuild.
Japan has been quick to join the United States and other major industrialized economies in imposing sanctions on Russia and backing Ukraine, amid fears of a similar development in East Asia, where Beijing is asserting itself. more and more and threatened to take military action against Taiwan if it refused to unite with China.
The acceptance of Ukrainian evacuees is unusual for Japan, which has extremely strict refugee and immigration policies despite its own dwindling workforce. Supporters have expressed hope that his support for Ukrainians will lead to a more lenient immigration policy.
Human rights groups have criticized Japan for neglecting displaced people from other countries such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, who have not received such a warm welcome or an organized support system at the level national.
“I would say it’s a win-win situation. Japan could use the aid on its labor shortage and Ukrainians or evacuees can contribute their skills and find work and contribute to their new temporary home,” Emanuel said.
The Nippon Foundation was founded by Sasakawa’s grandfather, Ryoichi Sasakawa, a far-right politician and businessman, to distribute money earned from motorboat racing, a popular gambling pastime .
When asked why he turned to the foundation, Emanuel, who has roots in Ukraine, said it was known for its humanitarian aid and was already working to support Ukrainian evacuees.