The Nippon Foundation Launches Fundraising Drive with U.S., Ukrainian Envoys to Assist Evacuees from Ukraine (1) [2022/06/29]
At a press conference on June 13, 2022, to announce the launch of a 1 billion-yen fund to assist Ukrainian evacuees in Japan. In the front row, from left, is a family of Ukrainian evacuees: Ms. Oksana Bila and her children Mr. Mark Yelenets and Ms. Rimma Yelenets-Memor. At back, from left, is The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Jumpei Sasakawa, Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.
The Nippon Foundation, working in partnership with the U.S. and Ukrainian ambassadors to Japan, has launched a fundraising campaign to give additional financial support to Ukrainian evacuees in Japan.
Mr. Jumpei Sasakawa, executive director of the foundation, said at a press conference on June 13 that the Ukrainian Evacuees Assistance Fund has started to accept donations, aiming to raise 1 billion yen (about $ 7.4 million) by the end of September.
The fund was created after Jumpei, who happens to be my son, was approached by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who called and asked him if together they can enable ordinary Japanese to help support Ukrainians who fled their war-torn country to Japan
As of June 27, Japan is home to 1,407 Ukrainian evacuees, according to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan. This number is already much larger than we had originally expected and is still rising steadily.
Upon arrival in Japan, Ukrainian evacuees receive 90-day temporary visitor visas. But more than 80% of them apply to upgrade these to “designated activities” visas affording a year's residence and work eligibility because they expect to have to remain in Japan for an extended period of time.
“Small donations from people around Japan will convey a feeling of welcome to evacuees arriving from Ukraine,” Jumpei said. The foundation will use these precious donations to support their Japanese language education to enable them to find jobs and lead fulfilling lives and to provide them with everyday items such as prepaid cards for public transportation.
We also plan to provide evacuees with opportunities to interact with local residents at festivals, firework displays, and sports events and to organize events where evacuees living in different parts of Japan can get together.
With administrative and other indirect costs being borne by the foundation, the entire amount of donations received will be used to support Ukrainian evacuees.
On March 28, The Nippon Foundation announced it would provide humanitarian assistance totaling 5.08 billion yen (about $37.6 million) over three years to help Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland to come and live in Japan. Of this amount, 3.55 billion yen (about $26.3 million) is earmarked for their travel and living expenses and 1.53 billion yen (about $11.3 million) for NGOs working to support their daily lives.
As of June 14, the foundation had received applications for assistance on behalf of 1,031 Ukrainians, of whom 280 have so far received travel and living expenses.
In deciding how to use the fund, we have taken into account the voices of Ukrainian evacuees receiving assistance about their uncertain future, such as: “I’m worried if I’ll be able to learn Japanese”; “I want to work, but I’m uncertain about the availability of jobs”; “I want to get away from daily life by spending time surrounded by nature”; and, “I want to see traditional buildings like shrines and learn more about Japanese culture.”
(To be continued)
Mr. Jumpei Sasakawa, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, at a press conference on June 13, 2022, to announce the launch of a fund-raising drive to support Ukrainian evacuees.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky.