Japan Data

Two in Three Ukrainian Evacuees in Japan Want to Stay Over Longer Term

Global Exchange Society Lifestyle

A survey of Ukrainian evacuees in Japan by the Nippon Foundation found that 39% would like to stay in Japan for as long as possible, while 34% hope to stay until the situation in Ukraine has normalized.

February 24 marked the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The effort of Ukraine to regain its lost territory has faced recent setbacks amid the slowdown in aid from the United States and Europe. At one point, as many as 15 million Ukrainians left the country, including especially women, children, and the elderly, and 2,500 of these evacuees were accepted by Japan.

The Nippon Foundation, which has been supporting the travel and living expenses of Ukrainian evacuees in Japan, conducted a survey of them in November and December 2023. The results show that 39% of the 1,022 respondents would like to stay in Japan for as long as possible, while 34% hope to stay until the situation in Ukraine has normalized, so that a total of over 70% are interesting in staying in Japan over the mid- to long-term.

Views of Ukrainian Evacuees in Japan

Japanese language ability has been a hurdle for many of the evacuees. As of July 2022, around 70% of the refugees had been practically incapable of speaking or understanding any Japanese, but the recent survey shows that the figure has decreased to 31%. Nevertheless, nearly three-quarters of the evacuees struggle in daily conversations, with only 26% saying they are capable of carrying on conversations or explaining more difficult topics.

The Nippon Foundation provides annual living-expense benefits of up to ¥1 million per displaced person, but the period is for a maximum of three years. In order to remain in Japan for longer, evacuees must be able to find jobs and earn their living.

According to the survey, 540 of the refugees were not currently employed, while 482 were working. Among those not employed, 56.7% said they were looking for work. In other words, roughly one-third of the Ukrainian evacuees would like to have a job but have been unable to secure one. In addition, 75% of those who have jobs are working on a part-time basis.

Are you working?

When asked what sort of assistance they need, apart from financial benefits and goods to support their daily lives, the most commonly mentioned thing cited by 44.7% of those surveyed, was job-placement services and vocational training.

What sort of assistance other than financial benefits and material goods do you need?

On February 21, Ukrainians Yuliia Boiarchuk and Olesandra Godenko spoke at the Nippon Foundation head office about their state of mind and current situation as evacuees.

Boiarchuk, who lives in Tokyo with her husband from Donetsk, held back her tears at times as she spoke at the event: “Many beautiful and strong-minded young people have died in the war. I just want this hell to end as soon as possible.” Godenko, who lives in Settsu, Osaka Prefecture, has decided to return home to be with her mother in Ukraine, who was hospitalized for an illness. “I feel sad,” she said, “because I have made friends here and am very attached to Japan.” She added that she hopes to find a job that has something to do with Japan, such as working at the embassy or as an interpreter or translator.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Ukrainian evacuees Olesandra Godenko [left] and Yuliia Boiarchuk. © The Nippon Foundation.)

Nippon Foundation Ukraine