Municipalities are coming forward to offer support to Ukrainians who have fled to Japan — from housing and jobs to education for their children — following Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement last week that Japan will accept them.
On Tuesday, Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said in a parliamentary session that between Mar. 2 and Tuesday, Japan had accepted eight Ukrainians who fled the country due to the crisis.
“We will work together with the relevant ministries and agencies so that we can swiftly and proactively accept” those fleeing violence in Ukraine, Furukawa said.
The evacuees are currently staying in Japan on 90-day residential visas, which can be extended or replaced with a longer-term residential status that would allow them to work in Japan, the Immigration Services Agency said. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees had fled the country in the 12 days through Tuesday.
Yokohama — Japan’s second most populous city — said it is ready to support people fleeing from the Eastern European country, with 79 rooms in public housing already secured. The city will also raise relief donations for the war-torn country.
Around 122 Ukrainians live in Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and a sister city of Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine.
Kishida has said Japan will primarily accept displaced Ukrainians who already have friends, family or other relatives in Japan. The assumption is that they will live with or near existing Ukrainian residents prompting municipalities to offer support.
Also Tuesday, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told the prefectural assembly that the prefectural government is planning to provide Ukrainian evacuees with free accommodation using vacant prefecture-run housing, while also setting up a venue for employment and educational support.
The eight Ukrainians won’t be able to work under the current short-term residential status. But if they stay on and switch to a “designated activities” residential status in the future, they will be allowed to work in Japan.
Mie and Kanagawa prefectures are also preparing to offer accommodation to those fleeing Ukraine.
“We may not be able to accept a large number of people but we want to do as much as we can to help,” Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa told reporters Tuesday.
In addition to municipalities, Japanese companies are also lending a helping hand. Pan Pacific International Holdings Corp., operator of the Don Quijote discount store chain, announced on Thursday that it will offer housing to 100 Ukrainian families as well as jobs.
Japan’s major telecommunications companies — NTT Corp., NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. — are offering free international phone calls and text messages between Japan and Ukraine during March.
Smaller firms such as Guidable, which offers services to foreign workers in Japan, will provide consultation and administrative support for companies that hire Ukrainians granted refugee status in March or after
The services, which will be provided free of charge for the first three months for up to 10 Ukrainians per company, are intended to help them settle in Japan.
Information from Kyodo added
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Source: The Japan Times