On Tuesday, the Japanese government flew 20 Ukrainian refugees into Tokyo in a high-profile show of solidarity for the worldwide effort to assist Ukraine by a country that has traditionally been hesitant to accept foreigners.
The 20 Ukrainian refugees, who vary in age from 6 to 66 and include 15 women, are not the first to come to Japan since Russia invaded their homeland on February 24, but they are the first to be carried in on a special government plane on a journey organized by Japan’s foreign minister.
“Despite their distance from their homeland, the government of Japan is dedicated to offering full support to these 20 Ukrainians in order to enable them to live in peace in Japan,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in Poland moments before he and the refugees left off for Japan.
Shortly before the 20, Hayashi landed on a different plane. He was in Poland examining the refugee situation.
NHK, Japan’s main broadcaster, showed their arrival in a live broadcast. Their jet was spotted on the tarmac while the 20 conducted COVID-19 tests on board, according to NHK.
In terms of ethnicity, it is homogeneous. Despite an aging population and a continuing labor deficit, Japan has always been wary of foreign migrants; nonetheless, polls show that a strong majority of Japanese support granting asylum to Ukrainians.
The 20 will join roughly 400 other Ukrainian refugees who have come in the aftermath of the Russian assault.
The majority of Ukrainians visit Japan on a 90-day visa, which they can later convert to a one-year visa that allows them to work.
Officials from the government declined to reveal why the 20 were chosen for the special flight, citing privacy concerns.
The government has not stated whether it will continue to transport Ukrainian refugees in this manner.