Japan brings 20 Ukrainian refugees on special flight.
TOKYO: The Japanese government flew 20 Ukrainian refugees to Tokyo on Tuesday (April 5) in a high-profile show of support for the international effort to help Ukraine by a country that has long been reluctant to accept foreigners.
The 20, ranging in age from 6 to 66, including 15 women, are not the first Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Japan since Russia invaded their homeland on February 24, but they are the first to travel in a special government plane on a trip. organized by the Japanese Foreign Minister.
“The government of Japan is committed to providing maximum support to these 20 Ukrainians to help them live with a sense of peace in Japan, even though they are far from their home country,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters. in Poland shortly before. he and the refugees left for Japan.
Hayashi, who had been assessing the refugee situation in Poland, flew out on a separate flight shortly before the 20 arrived.
The national broadcaster NHK showed his arrival in a live broadcast. His plane was shown on the tarmac as the 20 underwent COVID-19 tests on board, NHK said.
Ethnically homogeneous Japan has long been wary of foreign immigrants despite an aging population and chronic labor shortages, but opinion polls show the vast majority of Japanese support giving shelter to Ukrainians.
The 20 join nearly 400 other Ukrainian refugees who have arrived since the Russian invasion.
In 2020, the world’s third-largest economy accepted just 47 refugees and admitted another 44 “on humanitarian grounds,” about 1 percent of total applications.
America’s staunch ally Japan has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has applied various sanctions.
Most Ukrainians enter Japan on a 90-day visa that they can then convert to a special one-year visa that will allow them to work.
Government officials did not say why the 20 were selected for the special flight, citing privacy concerns.
The government has not said whether it will conduct more special flights for Ukrainian refugees.