Woman Who Fled Ukraine to Japan Wants Solidarity Between Ukraine, G7 Countries

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Alina Repeshko speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, while holding pictures taken in Ukraine.

HIROSHIMA — As Russian aggression against Ukraine continues and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy joins G7 Hiroshima Summit, a Ukrainian woman who fled to Japan hopes the G7 countries will cooperate with Ukraine and announce further assistance measures.

Alina Repeshko, who lives in Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, said she wanted democratic nations to stand together at the G7 summit to help her country regain peace.

Repeshko was living in Dnipropetrovsk Province in eastern Ukraine when Russia invaded in February 2022. The province was heavily bombed and Repeshko felt her life was in danger, prompting her to relocate to Japan two months later. Initially, she stayed with a friend in Okayama, but the following month, moved to Higashi-Hiroshima, which was providing life support and other services for Ukrainian nationals who had left their country due to the conflict.

Repeshko is a keen dancer and began learning ballet at age 7. After finding a ballet school in the city, she helped drum up support for Ukraine by dancing at a charity event organized by compatriots in the prefecture, as well as on other occasions.

The 33-year-old originally studied engineering and other subjects at a Ukraine university. In April this year, she entered a graduate school of Hiroshima University and is currently carrying out economic research with the aim of helping reconstruct her home country.

Repeshko’s parents still live in Ukraine, and a friend who was called up for military service sent her a picture of himself in military gear on a battlefield.

“I just want my parents and friends to be safe,” Repeshko said. “I don’t understand why Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to attack my country. It’s unforgivable.”

Last summer, Repeshko for the first time visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima and saw a burned school uniform and other exhibits. She was particularly struck by personal belongings left behind by victims.

Touching upon Zelenskyy’s attendance at the summit, she said, “Hiroshima, which experienced the [A-bomb] tragedy, is an appropriate place to discuss the crisis in my own country, which is exposed to a nuclear threat.”

Voicing concerns that Putin would not listen to reason, she said: “No country is safe as long as the nuclear threat exists. I hope the importance of peace will be communicated to the rest of the world from the atomic-bombed city [of Hiroshima].”