Japan FM Yoko Kamikawa: Govt will use ODA to Support Ukraine’s Culture; ‘Culture Supports the Ukrainian People’

Courtesy of the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
The Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in Odesa, southern Ukraine

The government intends to help support the restoration and preservation of Ukraine’s culture through official development assistance (ODA), Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa has told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction that is scheduled to be held in Tokyo on Monday, Kamikawa indicated the first step of this support will be the provision of a Japan-made stage projector to the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in the southern city of Odesa. This is the oldest such theater in Ukraine.

“Culture supports the Ukrainian people even in the midst of war, and has become a spiritual oasis for them,” Kamikawa said in the interview, which was conducted at the Foreign Ministry last Friday.

The theater was temporarily forced to close following the start of Russia’s aggression, but it currently is staging performances. The government hopes providing equipment will help rejuvenate the theater.

This will be the government’s first attempt to provide direct support using ODA to revive Ukraine’s culture since the start of Russia’s aggression in February 2022. The government announced on Feb. 7 it would contribute about ¥2 billion to UNESCO efforts to protect Ukrainian cultural heritage and other areas.

“It’s important to not only restore those buildings, but to also provide support that enriches and bolsters the cultural activities conducted within them,” Kamikawa said.

Kamikawa aims to promote “cultural diplomacy” because mutual understanding between the citizens of both nations is essential for diplomatic relations.