Japanese Student Volunteers Report on Their Activities in Poland to Help Ukrainian Evacuees (1) [2022年07月29日（Fri）]
On July 7, 2022, representatives of the first two groups of Japanese university student volunteers report on their activities in Poland to assist Ukrainian evacuees. The Nippon Foundation and The Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center dispatched them each for two weeks from late May to June.
The first two 15-member groups of Japanese university student volunteers have returned to Japan after spending two weeks each in Poland assisting Ukrainians displaced by the continued Russian military attacks.
At a press conference on July 7, representatives of the two groups reported on their activities mainly at a temporary evacuation center in the city of Przemyśl in southeastern Poland on the border with Ukraine, including distributing food and drinks, sorting relief supplies, collecting garbage, cleaning facilities and interacting with displaced children.
Under a joint project launched by The Nippon Foundation and The Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center, the first group was dispatched to Poland between May 31 and June 16 and the second group from June 13 to 29.
Representing the first group, Ms. Rin Ueda of the University of Hyogo said: “My strongest memory from my volunteer activities is when I went to the temporary evacuation center on my last day there, and a young girl I had often played with took hold of my hand and would not let me go, and burst into tears.”
“I was happy to have been able to give her even a little strength, but at the same time I thought that I could have helped more people if I could speak their language and had specialist knowledge and skills,” she said.
Ms. Ueda, who is currently studying nursing and hopes to become a nurse in the future, also said: “I want to spend the rest of my time at university acquiring such specialist knowledge and skills, and improving my language proficiency as well. I hope to acquire many skills in order to be able to provide medical and nursing care to more people who need help.”
Also from the first group, Mr. Taisei Onda of Sophia University majoring in Russian said: “Being able to respond in Russian is what I remember in particular about my activities at the temporary evacuation center. In many cases, I used Russian more than English.”
“To be honest, there were times when I thought I could be of more help if my Russian was better. These situations have encouraged me to put more effort into my Russian language studies.”
Mr. Onda had earlier created a website for Ukrainian evacuees coming to Japan. Now I want to make more active use of the site. I also think it is important to use social media to promote this (volunteer) program, and to share the experiences of the participants after they return.”
From the second group, Mr. Ryusei Komatsu of Meiji University said: “At the temporary evacuation center, water, food, donated clothing, and other items were available, but this did not mean that all of the evacuees’ requests could be met. At times, we had to clearly say ‘No’,” as when some evacuees pressed for extra blankets, which they were obviously planning to sell.
“I learned that the most important thing in having an equal relationship with evacuees is for volunteers to have empathy, rather than sympathy, for the evacuees,” he said, adding: “I am convinced that to support the evacuees in the true sense, we must constantly strive to empathize from their perspective.”
(To be continued)
From the first group, Ms. Rin Ueda, who is studying nursing at the University of Hyogo, said she hopes to acquire specialist medical and nursing skills and improve her language proficiency to help more people in need.
Also from the first group, Mr. Taisei Onda, a Russian major at Sophia University, says he wants to make more active use of a website he created to help Ukrainians coming to Japan.
From the second group, Mr. Ryusei Komatsu of Meiji University stresses that for volunteers to truly support evacuees, they must constantly strive to empathize with them from their perspective.
Nearly a Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (2) [2022年07月26日（Tue）]
At the UN Ocean Conference side event in Lisbon on June 29, The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project also announced a major new partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Signed by Seabed 2030 Head of Partnerships Mr. Stephen Hall and Dr. Rick Spinrad on behalf of NOAA, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizes U.S. participation in the ambitious project that has already begun between the two parties.
Mr. Hall said he was delighted by the latest partnership with NOAA, saying: “The expertise offered by this well-established institution and its scientists will play an invaluable role in taking us one step closer to the finish line. We intend to hit the ground running with the time remaining and signing this significant MOU at our event here in Lisbon is a testament to exactly that. Every minute counts.”
Dr. Spinrad said: “With the development of new tools and technologies for mapping and measuring its floor, we have a better capacity to understand its physical structure, and the life it supports, and therefore better understand our full planet. That knowledge can help us make better, more sustainable decisions−locally, nationally, and globally.”
All data collected and shared with the Seabed 2030 Project is included in the freely available GEBCO global grid–-the most complete bathymetric dataset of the world’s ocean floor.
When The Nippon Foundation launched Seabed 2030 with GEBCO at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017, only 6% of the world’s seabed had been mapped to modern standards.
Seabed 2030 continues to seek out new partnerships and technological advancements. So, I am particularly pleased by NOAA’s full commitment to the project.
I am convinced that this and other partnerships as well as further advances in technology and gathering already available data will contribute to achieving our ambitious goal of mapping the world’s entire seabed by the end of this decade.
at 10:00 | OCEAN
Nearly a Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (1) [2022年07月25日（Mon）]
Image shows areas of the global seafloor that are considered mapped within the GEBCO grid. The regions colored grey depict the coverage of mapped areas within the 2021 release of the GEBCO Grid and the areas colored red show the additional coverage included in the 2022 release.
Credit: The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Global Center (GDACC) on behalf of Seabed 2030.
The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete the mapping of the world’s entire ocean floor by 2030, has announced that nearly a quarter of the task has now been accomplished.
The latest GEBCO Grid figure now stands at 23.4 per cent, reflecting an increase of 10.1 million square kilometers of new bathymetric data from last year’s figure. This increase, primarily through newly opened archives, rather than active mapping efforts, is equivalent to an area around the size of Europe, and slightly larger than the Sahara―Earth’s largest hot desert.
Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project launched in 2017 between The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) to inspire the complete mapping of the world's ocean by 2030, and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. GEBCO is a joint program of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), and is the only initiative with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor.
The latest figure was announced by Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, at Seabed 2030’s official side event at the second UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 29. (He spoke on my behalf as I had to go into quarantine after being informed in the morning I had tested positive for COVID-19.) Seabed 2030 was launched five years ago at the first-ever UN Ocean Conference in New York.
“Despite covering over 70 percent of the planet, our knowledge of what lies beneath the blue surface has been severely limited. Without this crucial information we cannot possibly set about having a sustainable future−a complete map of the ocean floor is the missing tool that will enable us to tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, including climate change and marine pollution. It will enable us to safeguard the planet’s future,” he said.
A complete map of the seabed is needed for a host of reasons, not least for the future of humanity. The ocean drives global systems that make Earth habitable for us−oxygen, drinking water, much of our food, and the climate are ultimately regulated and provided by the sea. Ocean floor topography also helps identify underwater hazards and inform sustainable marine resource management and infrastructure development.
Seabed 2030 Project Director Jamie McMichael-Phillips welcomed the data increase: “It is encouraging to see this growth in bathymetric data despite the challenges facing ocean mapping, which were undeniably exacerbated by the pandemic.
“As we make headway with the Ocean Decade, we look forward to accelerating our efforts to recoup time and effort lost last year. The progress we have made since 2017 is commendable, but we are mindful of the task still ahead and eager to realize it.”
The Ocean Decade, of which Seabed 2030 is a flagship program, is a major initiative by the UN to mobilize governments, the private sector, scientists, and civil society to co-design and co-deliver transformative knowledge-led actions to reverse the decline in the health of the ocean and make a change in the sustainable management of the marine environment.
(To be continued)
at 17:07 | OCEAN
Participating in Early-Hours Virtual Conference with Global CEOs on Disability Business Inclusion [2022年07月22日（Fri）]
At 2:30 a.m. on June 21, 2022, I attend a virtual conference via Zoom with 8 CEOs representing The Valuable 500 on including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, online or virtual international conferences are the new norm.
Of course, nothing beats physical communication. In-person conferences provide greater networking opportunities and allow conversations to flow naturally and smoothly.
But virtual international conferences eliminate the need to travel, thus cutting costs and saving time, and reduce the event’s carbon footprint. They also make global reach and participation possible.
At 2:30 a.m. on June 21, I took part in an international virtual conference via Zoom joined by 8 CEOs of the world’s largest companies, including Mr. Tim Cook, Global CEO of Apple (U.S.); Mr. David S. Taylor, Executive Chairman of the Board at Procter & Gamble (U.S.); Mr. Oliver Baete, Global CEO of Allianz (Germany); and Mr. Tim Davie, Director-General of BBC (U.K.).
They represent The Valuable 500, a business network grouping CEOs of 500 global companies committed to including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.
The Nippon Foundation joined the business initiative in January 2021 as a Global Impact Partner by providing support totaling $5 million over three years in line with the foundation’s signature policy of aiming to create an inclusive society in which people with disabilities can actively participate without discrimination.
I decided to support The Valuable 500 as thus far there has not been major visible progress in employing persons with disabilities globally whatever declarations or decisions the United Nations or international conferences have made.
I believe the involvement of these global business leaders can be “a game changer” to create employment for the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities and develop products and services for them. The global purchasing power of persons with disabilities, their families and friends, is said to total $13 trillion, a market bigger than China.
Launched by Ms. Caroline Casey, an Irish social entrepreneur who is visually impaired, at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2019, the initiative aims to promote reforms that will enable persons with disabilities to demonstrate their potential social, business and economic value.
To attend the 2:30 a.m. conference on June 21, I had a few hours’ sleep in The Nippon Foundation’s nap room before joining the world’s top business leaders across the globe. The nap room enables our staffers to stay overnight to cope speedily and effectively in the event of natural disaster.
So far, I have barely had an opportunity to work with the world’s top business leaders. But I am convinced now that The Valuable 500 CEOs will become true game changers, determined to create jobs for people with disabilities and develop and produce goods and services catering to them.
The other CEOs who joined the June 21 virtual conference were Mr. Hans Vestberg, Global CEO of Verizon (U.S.); Mr. Bret Taylor, Global Co-CEO of Salesforce (U.S.); Ms. Sharon Thorne, Global Chair of Deloitte (U.K.); and Mr. Carmine Di Sibio, Global CEO of EY (U.K.).
I Test Positive for COVID-19 While in Portugal [2022年07月14日（Thu）]
From late June to early July, I traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan, and Lisbon, Portugal.
On June 24 in Baku, I joined the True Colors Festival, which showcased the diverse talents of artists with disabilities to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Azerbaijan.
The Nippon Foundation has presented this festival of performing arts throughout Asia since 2006 in celebration of diversity and inclusion under the banner “One World One Family.”
On June 27 I arrived in Lisbon to attend the United Nations Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the governments of Portugal and Kenya.
At the side event on the Blue Economy, co-sponsored by the government of Palau and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, I gave a speech in the presence of President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. of Palau, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji and other dignitaries.
In the conference hall, I saw no one wearing a face mask. Reluctantly, I pocketed mine.
In the afternoon of June 28, I took a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the novel coronavirus at a local clinic called Joaquim Chaves Saude. Early the following morning, I was informed that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I have no idea where and how I contracted it.
Of the five speeches I had planned for the rest of the ocean conference, I let Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, read three on my behalf. I also cancelled all the meetings I had planned with leaders of various countries in the Portuguese capital.
I went into a week-long quarantine in my small hotel room. To keep in shape, I wanted to do some exercises in preparation for my plan to climb Mt. Fuji in August, but there was not enough space.
Over more than four decades, I have made almost 550 overseas trips on my mission to eliminate leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, and the associated stigma and discrimination. My travels have taken me from the Amazon rainforest to the heart of the Africa. But I have never had an experience like this.
I came back to Tokyo on July 7, a week later than planned. I had a packed schedule for that week, so I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience my enforced absence caused.
【Photo Diary】 (2) Visit to Azerbaijan and Portugal [2022年07月13日（Wed）]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to Azerbaijan and Portugal between June 23 and July 7, 2022.
[June 27, Lisbon, Portugal]
Outside the Lisbon Altice Arena Convention Center where the United Nations Ocean Conference was held from June 27 to July 1. Co-hosted by the governments of Portugal and Kenya, it brought together more than 6,000 participants, including 24 heads of state and government, and over 2,000 representatives of civil society.
Giving a speech at a U.N. Ocean Conference side event sponsored by the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS).
Speaking at a U.N. Ocean Conference side event cosponsored by the Palau government and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation under the title of Blue Economy for the Pacific Island Countries – Leadership, Capacity Development and Blue Economy Index.
With President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. of Palau.
[June 28, Lisbon, Portugal]
With Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, president of the World Maritime University (WMU) of Sweden. Since 1987, The Nippon Foundation has supported about 730 fellows from 80 countries who have studied at WMU under our fellowship program.
With fellows of the Ocean Nexus Program. From left: Ms. Frédérique Fardin; Dr. Harriet Harden-Davies; the author; Dr. Marleen Schutter; and Dr. Grant Blume. The Ocean Nexus Program, launched in 2019, has already been joined by more than 300 like-minded researchers who are working toward the far-reaching goal of achieving just and equitable ocean governance.
【Photo Diary】 (1) Visit to Azerbaijan and Portugal [2022年07月12日（Tue）]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to Azerbaijan and Portugal between June 23 and July 7, 2022. I traveled to Baku to join the True Colors Festival where a variety of musicians and dancers with disabilities from Japan and Azerbaijan performed marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In Lisbon, I attended the United Nations Ocean Conference.
[June 24, Baku, Azerbaijan]
From left: Mr. Ilgar Rahimov, president of the National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan; an interpreter; Mr. Ichiro Kabasawa, executive director of The Nippon Foundation; and the author.
With artists who performed at the True Colors Festival. From left: Mr. Showji Kawasaki, a guitarist; the author; Ms. Akiko Tomida, a taiko (Japanese drum) percussionist; and Mr. Yusuke Anazawa, a violinist.
Visiting the Paralympics Sports Complex.
With visually impaired judoka, including Paralympic medalists.
With Mr. Parvin Mammadow (right), an Azerbaijan Paralympic powerlifter who won a bronze medal in the Men’s 49kg at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, and female powerlifter Ms. Zahza Dodoshova.
Observing archery practice.
Scene from the True Colors Festival in Azerbaijan.
Scene from the True Colors Festival in Azerbaijan.
With Ms. Nazrin Mirzazada, a Sasakawa fellow (class of 2016) who studied at the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta under The Nippon Foundation’s fellowship program. She is now chief legal adviser at the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technology.
[June 25, Baku, Azerbaijan]
Receiving a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the novel coronavirus at my hotel.
[June 26, Baku, Azerbaijan]
With Mr. Rufat Hajili, head of the International Relations and Marketing Department, National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan. He came to Heydar Aliyev International Airport to see me off when I took a 7 a.m. flight from Baku to Istanbul. His wife, Ms. Sevda Valiyeva, won a gold medal at the Paralympic games in Tokyo!
(To be continued)
Imphal Peace Museum in India Celebrates Third Anniversary [2022年07月08日（Fri）]
The Imphal Peace Museum in northeast India marked its third anniversary on June 22, 2022. It was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal between the Japanese army and Allied Forces.
The third anniversary of the Imphal Peace Museum was observed in a ceremony held in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on June 22 in the presence of Indian and Japanese dignitaries.
The museum opened in June 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal−regarded as one of the fiercest battles of World War II−between the Japanese army and Allied Forces.
Supported by The Nippon Foundation in collaboration with the Manipur Tourism Forum under the theme of “Peace and Reconciliation,” the museum is located at the foot of historic Red Hill, 20 kilometers south of downtown Imphal, the state capital.
Speaking at the ceremony, Manipur Governor La Ganesan said: “Today, the Imphal Peace Museum has become the hallmark and testimony of the strong historical connection, which the people of Manipur have with Japan.
“I believe that this can be an event to make Manipur known to many parts of the world and to make Manipur a World War II heritage site, attracting tourists from across the globe especially those countries, whose citizens’ lives are laid down here.”
Also participating in the celebration were Founder President Dr. Thangjam Dhabali Singh of the Tourism Forum, President Krishnan Singh and Director Haobam Joyremba as well as Mr. Kunihiko Kawazu, minister and deputy chief of mission of the Japanese Embassy in India, and Mr. Atsushi Sunami, president of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
In a video message I recorded for the event, I said: “The Imphal Peace Museum today plays a very important role as a bridge between the past and the future and between Japan and the State of Manipur. It is the dedication and efforts of all of you that have made this possible.”
I went on to say that the friendship that developed between The Nippon Foundation and Manipur through the establishment of the museum is what led the foundation to send oxygen concentrators and other needed medical equipment to the state for treating COVID-19 when India was in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We would be most happy if we have been of assistance to you in any small way,” I said.
The museum is a living memory of this tragic battle of World War II, exhibiting artillery shells and other artifacts, and valuable personal notes and photographs donated by survivors, family members of those who died in the fighting, and others.
Also on display is a calligraphy panel presented by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe displaying the characters for “Heiwa” (Peace) that he wrote on New Year’s Day, 2019.
According to Mr. Joyremba, nearly 29,000 people have visited the museum since its opening. It was closed for more than eight months from March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
I sincerely hope that many more people will visit, and not only from India and Japan, to learn more about the history of this cruel battle and the value of the peace we now share today.
The text and video of my message on the third anniversary of the Imphal Peace Museum can be seen here.
A calligraphy panel presented by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Imphal Peace Museum, displaying the characters for “Heiwa” (Peace) that he wrote on New Year’s Day, 2019.
Among the exhibits on display are items donated by survivors of the Battle of Imphal and family members of those who died in the fighting.
German Director Wim Wenders to Make Film about Public Toilets in Tokyo [2022年07月05日（Tue）]
Scene from a press conference on May 11, 2022, to announce a film about high-end public toilets in Tokyo that have been renovated under “The Tokyo Toilet” project launched by The Nippon Foundation. From left, renowned architect Mr. Tadao Ando, award-winning German director Mr. Wim Wenders, and actor Mr. Koji Yakusho, who will play the lead role as a sanitation worker.
Legendary German Director Mr. Wim Wenders has agreed to make a film about high-end public toilets in Tokyo, with top Japanese actor Mr. Koji Yakusho in the lead role.
The toilets were designed by 16 internationally-renowned architects, including laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel”) such as Mr. Tadao Ando and Mr. Shigeru Ban, with the idea that they can be used by anyone safely and comfortably regardless of gender, age, or disability.
Under “The Tokyo Toilet” (TTT) project launched by The Nippon Foundation in 2020, a dozen toilets have been completed and are open to the public in Shibuya Ward, central Tokyo, with five more under construction.
"My first reaction was, I must admit: What? Toilets? Chotto matte, ne," Mr. Wenders said at a press conference in Tokyo on May 11, using the Japanese expression for "wait a minute" to describe his reaction when approached by TTT about the film project.
But he was soon inspired by the futuristic look of the toilets and signed on to direct the film. "For me, they turned from toilets into restrooms. That's a very nice word in English, the restroom. When I saw these places the next couple of days, I realized they were restrooms in the true sense of the word."
“A toilet is a place where everybody is the same. There’s no rich and poor, no old and young, everybody’s part of humanity,“ the Oscar-winning director of Wings of Desire and Buena Vista Social Club said, adding: "There is something very Japanese about the idea, about the whole setting. And I almost think it's a Utopian idea."
Mr. Wenders also said he is particularly happy to be working with architect Mr. Tadao Ando, who devised a circular toilet with thin slats that let in fresh air as people wash their hands. "I was so glad when I saw his toilet the other day, and saw how he worked with the light. I thought, this is a classy place."
Mr. Yakusho, known for his leading roles in films such as Shall We Dance? and Babel, will play a sanitation worker who cleans the toilets, seeing his job as a craft and a service for the people.
He said he accepted the role as soon as it was offered by the filmmaker because he wanted to work with him. "I have a feeling it's going to be a beautiful story. And I feel a story that has a toilet as the setting, with the person who works there and the people who use it, will help lead to an understanding of Japan," the actor said.
Although Japan is generally regarded as a clean country with a high standard of hygiene, its public restrooms have had an image problem―dark, dirty, smelly, and scary are just some of the descriptions.
To dispel such notions, The Nippon Foundation launched the TTT project to install 17 public toilets in Shibuya Ward, using the designs of world-famous architects to change people's perceptions of public toilets and make them accessible to everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability.
The restrooms are free of charge, wheelchair-friendly and kept immaculate by cleaning staff who work 365 days a year.
I trust they will inspire people to leave the toilets as they would hope to find them, thus extending the spirit of Japan’s omotenashi hospitality to the arena of public conveniences.
Filming is expected to begin in Japan later this year with a planned release date of 2023. I look forward to seeing how the German cinematic master visualizes this beautiful spirit of hospitality. My dream is to see the movie win an Oscar at the Academy Awards.
Mr. Tadao Ando designed a circular public restroom with a roof overhang, located near Shibuya Station. It’s nicknamed Amayadori, a Japanese term meaning to take shelter from the rain. Photo: Satoshi Nagare.
The Nippon Foundation Launches Fund-Raising Drive with U.S., Ukrainian Envoys to Assist Evacuees from Ukraine (2) [2022年07月01日（Fri）]
Ms. Oksana Bila, who fled war-torn Ukraine to Japan with her son and daughter, joins a press conference on June 13, 2022, to announce the launch of a fund to assist Ukrainian evacuees in Japan.
Speaking at a press conference on June 13 to announce the launch of the Ukrainian Evacuees Assistance Fund, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said: “As someone whose family came from Odessa (southwestern Ukraine), I would like to thank The Nippon Foundation and Japanese people for their support of the Ukrainian evacuees. This global and humanitarian crisis requires more than just government and corporate action. Every single individual has a role to play, and this fund empowers them to do so.”
“I am proud to stand here with my friends, Ukrainian Ambassador (Sergiy) Korsunsky and (Jumpei) Sasakawa-san of The Nippon Foundation, to show what we stand for, and the difference we can make when we partner for what is right,” he said, adding: “I hope these donations bring a measure of stability to the families whose lives have been devastated by Russia’s unjust, unprovoked, and unwarranted war.”
Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Korsunsky said: “We are grateful to The Nippon Foundation and our strategic partner the United States of America for their valuable support to Ukraine from the beginning of the Russian invasion. The war continues so every help counts.” He added that the fund can make a difference and contribute considerably to the efforts to ease the suffering of the Ukrainians who have been forced to flee from the hardships of the war.
He called on Japanese people to see donations to the fund as an “investment by Japan in a nation that will always be friends with you,” adding Ukrainians in Japan will be “a bridge between our countries” when Ukraine is ready to rebuild itself.
Also attending the press conference were Ukrainian evacuees in Japan Ms. Oksana Bila, 48, and her son Mark Yelenets, 22, and daughter Rimma Yelenets-Memor, 18. When the war started on February 24, Ms. Bila was in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border while Mark was studying in Norway and Rimma in Poland. They arrived in Tokyo together on May 9.
Ms. Bila said: “Walking through parks and neighborhoods (in Japan), the buildings are very beautiful and this gives me peace of mind. Thank you to everyone in Japan.”
Mark returned to Ukraine from Norway to join the army after the Russian invasion, but was exempted from military service as he had been enrolled in a university outside Ukraine. “I am very happy to be able to study Japanese culture and language, visit historical places, and learn about Japanese traditions,” he said, adding the family is "really grateful" for educational support because it offers the possibility of being integrated into Japanese society by learning the language and culture.
Rimma had been studying design at a university in Poland and is still attending lectures remotely after evacuating to Japan. “Once I’ve mastered the language, I want to transfer to a Japanese university,” she said, adding: “Thank you very much to the people of Japan and America for giving us this opportunity. I am very grateful that my mother was able to evacuate from Kharkiv.”
Mr. Mark Yelenets says he is “very happy” to study Japanese culture and language.
Ms. Rimma Yelenets-Memor says that once she’s mastered the Japanese language, she wants to transfer to a Japanese university.
Here is how you can donate to the Ukrainian Evacuees Assistance Fund.