March 2, 2022
By Mari Saito and Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) -Keiichi Kurogi was one of dozens of men in Japan who volunteered to join an “international force” to fight the Russian invaders after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for volunteers.
Kurogi, a 39-year-old clerk living in southwestern Japan, told Reuters he called the Ukrainian embassy on Monday after seeing its request for volunteers on Twitter.
“When I saw pictures of elderly men and women in Ukraine holding guns and moving forward, I felt I should go in their place,” he said.
The embassy rejected Kurogi’s offer to fight and told him he lacked the necessary military experience.
As of Tuesday, 70 Japanese men – including 50 former members of Japan’s Defense Forces and two French Foreign Army veterans – had applied to become volunteers, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper quoted a Tokyo-based company as volunteering.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian embassy acknowledged that he had received phone calls from people who “wanted to fight for Ukraine”, but declined to comment further.
In a post on social media from the embassy on 28 February, the Japanese were thanked for their many inquiries about volunteering, but added a caveat.
“All applicants for this must have experience in the Japanese Defense Forces or have undergone specialized training,” he said.
In a new post on Twitter on Wednesday, the Ukrainian embassy in Japan said it was looking for volunteers with experience in medicine, information technology, communications or firefighting. It was not immediately clear whether the volunteer positions were remote or involved a trip to Ukraine.
Japan has told its citizens to delay travel to Ukraine for any reason, a warning issued on Wednesday by Hirokazu Matsuno, the prime minister, who said he was aware of the news about the volunteers.
“The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued evacuation advice for all of Ukraine and we want people to stop all travel to Ukraine, regardless of the purpose of their visit,” he told a news conference.
“We are in contact with the Ukrainian Embassy in Japan and pointed out that evacuation advice is available.
Japan said on Wednesday it would suspend its embassy in Kyiv temporarily due to growing dangers in the capital.
The war in Ukraine has aroused strong feelings in Japan, which has a post-war peace policy that has been reinterpreted in recent years to allow Japan to exercise common self-defense or assist allies in attack.
Hundreds gathered to protest Russia’s invasion of Tokyo last week, but the Ukrainian embassy said it had collected $ 17 million in donations from about 60,000 people in Japan after submitting a request for online assistance.
One of them was 23-year-old Ryoga Seki, who is studying computer science at a high school in Osaka, who gave a full month’s salary from his part-time job as a teacher – 100,000 yen ($ 868) – to Ukraine.
“There are a lot of people here, like me, who want to do something but can’t move right now,” he said, adding that this was his first major contribution and the maximum amount he could transfer from a bank at a time.
As for Kurogi, he is determined that he would run again if Ukraine changed its demands.
“I am from a generation that does not know war at all,” he said. “It’s not that I want to go to war, it’s that I’d rather go than see children forced to carry guns.
(Additional reports by Kantaro Komiya and Sakura Murakami; Editing by Lincoln Feast)
Volunteers flock to fight for Ukraine in peaceful Japan
Source link Volunteers flock to fight for Ukraine in peaceful Japan