Japanese language schools, vocational schools pledge to help Ukrainian refugees

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ukrainian refugees flood into Medyka, eastern Poland, on Saturday.

OSAKA — Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 12 Japanese language and vocational training schools have formed a group to provide Japan-based Ukrainian refugees with free language lessons and other forms of support.

The group aims to help more than 100 such people and is currently raising the necessary money via crowdfunding.

According to a person related to the project, the participating organizations are keen to extend a warm welcome to refugees who come to Japan.

Norito Hiraoka, principal of Seifu Institute of Information Technology in Osaka City, urged other educational organizations to participate in the project, saying, “By drawing on our experience of accepting foreign students, we can support people whose lives have been jeopardized by [Russia’s] outrageous invasion.”

Nationwide educational bodies with headquarters in such locations as Tokyo and Kumamoto Prefecture number among the participants. The group will work closely with Pathways Japan, a Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization that has experience in helping Syrian refugees.

The group will accept Ukrainian refugees aged 18 to 30, with each organization welcoming up to about 10 refugees each. It will also provide each person with ¥150,000 when they reach Japan, and ¥50,000 per month until they can establish a stable life.

Participating organizations will provide basically free lessons and cover refugees’ travel costs to Japan. In addition to Japanese language education, the group also plans to help people find part-time jobs, offer advice on such topics as how to separate and dispose of household garbage, and assist with administrative procedures. Help will also be offered securing full-time work or advancing to higher education based on each individual’s Japanese language ability.

The group hopes to collect around ¥60 million through its crowdfunding initiative and support will be provided for up to two years.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa, right, meets with Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky at the Justice Ministry building in Tokyo on Saturday, to pledge Japan’s acceptance of refugees.

If Ukrainian refugees are unable to reach Japan, the group intends to use the donated funds to provide educational support to Ukrainians living in Japan, or donate the money to the Ukrainian Embassy in Japan.

Hiraoka, who also serves as the group’s representative, said, “We’d like to provide the kind of support that will allow Ukrainian refugees to live in Japan safely and securely.”

According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, as of Saturday, about 2.7 million refugees had fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. These countries, Japan and European Union member nations have all announced they will accept Ukrainian refugees.