Japanese foreign minister brings back 20 Ukrainian evacuees

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A group of 20 Ukrainian evacuees arrived in Japan on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi as he returned from his visit to Poland in a show of Tokyo’s latest support for the torn Ukraine. by war and to its neighboring countries.

The 20 evacuees who boarded a government plane in the Polish capital of Warsaw hoped to get to Japan but were unable to secure their own transport, according to Hayashi, who refrained from disclosing more than details, citing privacy concerns.

Japan’s exceptional decision to use a government plane to airlift foreign evacuees comes as people fleeing Ukraine face skyrocketing airfares since Russia began its invasion of their homeland. February 24.

The government plans to provide support for the 20 evacuees for about six months, including housing, employment and language lessons, according to Deputy Justice Minister Jun Tsushima who accompanied Hayashi on his five-day trip. Poland.

The minister’s visit as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s special envoy was aimed at showing Japan’s commitment to global efforts to help Ukraine and Poland, which has seen the largest influx of refugees from Ukraine. after the Russian invasion.

The evacuated men and women range in age from 6 to 66, a government source said.

Like other evacuees who have already entered Japan, the 20 evacuees will be granted short-term residency for 90 days and will be allowed to later change their visa to “designated activities” status for one year under which they are allowed to work, according to the Japan Immigration Services Agency.

Those who do not have guarantors in Japan, such as relatives or acquaintances, must stay in government-organized hotels until municipalities or companies provide new places to stay.

They will also receive financial assistance for living expenses, medical care and professional training, as well as linguistic assistance such as the provision of an interpreter.

On Monday, Hayashi pledged to accept “as many (Ukrainians) as possible” from a humanitarian point of view when he spoke with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw, before meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

To see what help Tokyo should provide to Ukrainian evacuees, Hayashi also visited a border checkpoint and refugee reception center in Medyka and Japan’s temporary liaison office in Rzeszow, both in southeastern China. Poland, during his stay in the country.

In the same vein, Japan has decided to send four officials to Moldova, another country sharing a border with Ukraine, for a week from Tuesday to explore the possibility of human resources contribution in the health and medical services sector.

By Sunday, 4.21 million refugees had fled Ukraine since the start of the conflict, including 2.45 million to Poland and around 395,000 to Moldova, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, Japan accepted 404 evacuees from Ukraine on Sunday, according to the Japanese government.