A Japanese Resident Makes a Decisive Decision: “I Can’t Give Up on Ukraine… | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A Japanese Resident Makes a Decisive Decision: “I Can’t Give Up on Ukraine…

In-depth interviews with local people living in turmoil: huge lines at ATMs, hoarding at supermarkets

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A closed Kiev grocery store. Immediately after the curfew, Mr. Takagaki had difficulty procuring groceries and spent most of his time eating cup noodles.

In the early morning of February 24, when the Russian military launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the capital city of Kiev was roaring with the sound of explosions.

I woke up to the sound of the explosion and realized that war had begun.

Hitoshi Nakamura, 54, a Japanese language teacher who has lived in Ukraine for 20 years, was in his apartment in Kiev at the time. Soon after, he received a call from his employer, instructing him to stay home.

Until the day before, the citizens of Kiev were calm and not in a panic. ……

From that day on, the city changed completely. Restaurants were closed, lines formed at bank ATMs, and supermarkets were bought up. On the 26th, a curfew was imposed, and apartment dwellers fled to underground shelters whenever sirens sounded in the city. Nakamura, however, remained calm.

I basically stayed in my room,” he said. When I looked into the shelter, I saw a family with children had evacuated, so I offered them boiled potatoes and other food. I tried not to worry too much, since there were no explosions so close by.”

According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of February 27, there are approximately 120 Japanese living in Ukraine. This is almost half the number of 251 as of last December. The Embassy of Japan in Ukraine has repeatedly called Japanese residents to evacuate, but the number was divided between those who evacuated and those who remained. Mr. Nakamura was urged to evacuate by phone a total of four times, but he told the Embassy, “I will stay.

I was hesitant about not following the advice, but when I look back on my life up to now, I feel that I cannot give up on Ukraine. Ukrainians are very generous and have a warmer perspective than Westerners. I wonder if people in the West, who have been promoting democratization, would evacuate at once in a situation like this. I have been a part of this country for 20 years, so when I have to flee, I will be with them.”

To evacuate or not to evacuate? The decision will depend on each individual’s position and circumstances.

A university student who posted on Twitter, “I can’t get out of Kiev,” received a flurry of support and disapproval. While some expressed concern for his safety, saying, “Please be safe,” there were also many slanderous comments such as, “You are only causing trouble for the locals,” and “You have no sympathy for those who went to the battlefield on your own.

Noriya Takagaki, 56, who has lived in Ukraine for 13 years and runs an international marriage agency, is one of the “remainers. After the Russian invasion began in earnest, he opened a YouTube channel, “Ukraine Information Bureau,” and began to report on the situation in Ukraine. He reports daily on the tension of the roaring streets and the chaos in the city through videos on his smartphone. He was once stopped by a police officer and pointed a gun at him while he was filming. It seems that he was mistaken for a suspicious person by the Ukrainian authorities, who are on heightened alert.

I was indeed surprised,” he said. I came to Ukraine by my own choice, so I am prepared for whatever may happen in the future. Besides, I can’t leave my Ukrainian wife, children, and company employees behind.

On the morning of the 28th, when the curfew was lifted, Mr. Takagaki went to the center of Kiev, a five-minute drive from his apartment, and found that high-rise buildings had been cruelly destroyed and the ground was strewn with debris.

He said, “I might die if something like these rockets hit my house. Cars in the area had broken windows and battered holes in them. If the war can be settled through talks, that would be best. No one likes to go into a fight.”

The Russian military attacks are intensifying, and the situation on the ground remains unpredictable.

Citizens of Kiev line up at an ATM. The Russian military invasion has caused chaos, and people have lined up at supermarkets and other stores due to anxiety about their daily lives.

From the March 18, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text Takehide Mizutani

    Nonfiction writer

  • PHOTO Jiji Press Afro

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