Photo: SoraNews24
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Russian Shop in Tokyo becomes target of vandalism after owner’s controversial remarks

32 Comments
By SoraNews24

Russian shop “Aka no Hiroba” (“Red Square”) opened in Tokyo in February last year, and since then, they’ve been introducing locals to popular Russian delicacies and products, including a selection of Vladimir Putin T-shirts and chocolates.

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Back then, nobody blinked an eye at these goods, especially as Putin calendars have been a bit of a joke gift here for a number of years, even outselling Japanese celebrity calendars at one major retail chain.

However, nobody’s joking now, after Putin put everyone’s lives in peril with his decision to invade Ukraine last week. With the world on edge, and anti-Russian sentiment swelling around the globe, some people are now taking their anger out on ordinary Russians, even those who are proponents for peace.

That’s what happened in Tokyo recently at Aka no Hiroba. Although they sell Russian goods, the store, which is the bricks-and-mortar branch of import food company Victoria Foods Market, has been clear about their wish for peace in the region.

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The tweet above, posted the day after the invasion, reads:

“We will offer flowers every day until the end of the battle, in the hopes that Russia and Ukraine will regain peace as soon as possible.”

Single, long-stemmed flowers like the ones seen above are often placed at memorial ceremonies for the deceased in Japan, so the makeshift stand they’ve set up acts as a way to pay respects to those who have lost their lives during the conflict.

▼ Customers have been adding their own flowers as offerings as well.

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Despite the peace offering, the store discovered they’d been the target of vandalism on the night of Feb 28, when a signboard outside the store had been broken in two.

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The tweet above reads:

“Thank you for your continued patronage.

We’d like to talk about a sad event that occurred at our shop. Our store signboard was broken and destroyed on the evening of 28 February.

Is it because we deal with Russian food? Is it because of the store name…

Actually, our store representative is Ukrainian, the staff is also Ukrainian, Uzbek, Japanese.

Within our staff, five are single mothers working to support their families.

No matter what country we are from, there is no connection between the shop and politics.

We work with a desire to act as a bridge between Japan and Ukraine, Russia and other countries.

It is our sincere hope that peace will come to both countries and they will form a better relationship.

And we hope that smiles will return to the people of our homelands.”

While the damage might appear minor, respect for others and their belongings, no matter how large or small, is paramount in Japan. The news quickly went viral, eliciting comments like:

“This makes me feel awful. I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

“This is a hurtful hate crime.”

“This is no good…what’s bad is Putin, not the Russians.”

“The hate should be directed at Putin and his entourage, who have begun an unreasonable war, not Russians or Russia.”

“There is no sin in the delicious food of Russia. The bad thing is this meaningless war.”

In among all the words of encouragement for the store, a signboard shop called Plus Marks in Sagamihara City stepped up with the offer to supply Aka no Hiroba with a new signboard for free. Although the Russian store declined the free offer, insisting to pay instead, the signboard makers refused to accept any payment, saying they hoped the board would act as a symbol of the new bonds formed between the store and the people who support it.

The deluge of good wishes and support from the community has been a welcome salve for the sad event, and it suggests that the store owner’s apology for remarks made to a television station about the invasion have been well received by the public.

According to the television report, owner Victoria Miyabe, who was born in Donetsk, was quoted as saying:

“Yesterday, I heard my relatives who live there say, ‘With the Ukrainian army gone, it was the quietest night in eight years.'”

and

“Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

▼ Miyabe’s quotes appeared alongside a photo of her in the TV report.

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Miyabe responded to the report with this tweet on February 26, two days before the damage to the store signboard occurred.

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The tweet above reads:

“Regarding my remarks to the TV station.

First of all, I deeply apologise for making everyone misunderstand and feel uncomfortable with the very unpleasant remarks.

That remark was conveying to the TV station what I had heard from my relatives living in Donetsk, but without being able to accurately convey my feelings in my poor Japanese, I made everyone who is hurting over the current situation in Ukraine feel uncomfortable and I sincerely apologize.

Both Ukraine and Russia are my beloved hometowns, and we also carry a large number of Ukrainian products.

I sincerely hope that peace will come soon and everyone’s smiles will return as soon as possible.”

The store’s currently pinned tweet includes the following statement, which reinforces the owner’s wish for peace in the region:

“I am from Donetsk, Ukraine, and from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine and Russia are my beloved hometowns and I hope peace will come as soon as possible.”

While it’s unclear what prompted the damage to the store’s signboard, the people of Japan are hoping there’ll be no more animosity towards Russians in Tokyo. Because the wounds from the animosity towards Asians over the coronavirus pandemic are still taking their time to heal.

Source: Twitter/@victoriashop_ru via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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-- Film about Japanese-Russian POW romance gets crowdfunding project for screening in Russia

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments

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Maybe they should close for a while.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

Maybe go larger on the Ukraine-Russia friendship angle, and hide the Putin merch.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

this is result of media antirussian massage and massive rusophobia-even in japanese media.

even here,even in dscussions under articles published here,largely allowed and no problem for editors or moderators.

congrats "journalists",you did a "great job"!/irony off/

-12 ( +10 / -22 )

Selling fascist-Putin memorabilia in the middle of his war of terror against sovereign Ukraine?

Beyond the pale.

13 ( +26 / -13 )

Crass and insenstive... I mean can you imagine a shop in WW2 called Nuremberg selling Hitler memorabilia in unoccupied lands? Putin is another Hitler and this is just tasteless

9 ( +23 / -14 )

I do oppose hate or any violent speech. That's my clear starting position here.

Actually, our store representative is Ukrainian, the staff is also Ukrainian, Uzbek, Japanese.

Within our staff, five are single mothers working to support their families.

If employing no Russian, or someone other than Russian nationals, why not thinking twice about Russification of the shop? Promoting "Slavic" or "Eurasian" may be more sensible....

While now it's definitely a rainy day for the shop, I guess it used to benefit from the popularity of Putin cult as his goods usually sell well during the peacetime (I'd also feel like a Putin chocolate above). Things always cut both ways, and there is a risk of bandwagoning. That's also my warning for some other --philia phenomena underway.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Eastman

this is result of media antirussian massage and massive rusophobia-even in japanese media.

Mmmm no. It's more likely because of all the Putin merch, and because of the owner's comments:

“Yesterday, I heard my relatives who live there say, ‘With the Ukrainian army gone, it was the quietest night in eight years.'”

and

“Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

12 ( +19 / -7 )

What exactly are "the store owner's controversial remarks" as stated in the title?

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Collateral damage, can't be helped.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

When shops and people get targeted it reminds me of what happened when Hitler started his campaign. You don't have to buy the product. It’s a business, if things don't sell, they'll get different merchandise, there's no need for vandalism or pointing your hate in the direction of people innocent in this war

5 ( +12 / -7 )

No opinion on Miyabe’s remarks but agree with @Speed 5:38pm’s questions of ‘what…’ and more precisely, “where?”. - Trying to find content relative to headlines in these SoraNews24 “Twitter” splashes amongst the unnecessary screenshots is as monotonous as those “Where’s Wally(Waldo)?” books for bored kids..

To make it easier for everyone, @Speed 5:38pm, here they are:

[According to the television report, owner Victoria Miyabe, who was born in Donetsk, was quoted as saying: “Yesterday, I heard my relatives who live there say, ‘With the Ukrainian army gone, it was the quietest night in eight years.'” and “Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

What’s happened to actual ‘journalism’ and just telling the story versus this sensationalistic style catering only to hyperbolic millennials?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Mmmm no. It's more likely because of all the Putin merch, and because of the owner's comments:

“Yesterday, I heard my relatives who live there say, ‘With the Ukrainian army gone, it was the quietest night in eight years.'”

and“Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

Obviously the simpleton/s who did this don't know much about what's been going on in Donetsk since 2014 and the reality for the Russian minority there. This doesn't mean Putin,s invasion is justified, it is wrong and brutal but armed conflict has been an ongoing reality in Donetsk / Luhansk for a long time and the comments of the owner's relatives made are understandable in such context. The morons who vandalized the sign probably don't know much more about it than the " truth" they see on NHK.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Selling fascist-Putin memorabilia in the middle of his war of terror against sovereign Ukraine?Beyond the pale."

Pretty sure those Putin chocolates have been sitting on the shelves there for a while , unlikely the owner put them out in the last week since the invasion started. I,d guess the owner might take them off the shelves now. Btw, did people stop eating Big Macs or drinking Starbucks when Iraq was being bombed because it possessed WMD,s" ? Let's keep local food stores out of this.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Disgrace on whoever vandalised the sign. Probably some creep who has no idea of the Russo-Ukrainian geopolitical tensions that were happening since 2014. Low.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Unbelievable even before the invasion someone would buy a putin chocolate bar or tshirt.

But that said i remember village vanguard selling a tshirt mocked up as the killers band that had Osama Hitler Bush Saddam and a couple of others on it so maybe not so unbelieveable after all.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A signboard has been broken into two? From what i saw in the picture, is more likely they broke it themselves to drum up sympathy and gain more attention. Vandalism is where people throw bricks to break your stores and destroy your products or spray paints and write insulting words.

This whole signboard seem more like drama they intentionally did just to get people feel pity for them.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

So the writer of this “stuff” thinks “everyone’s lives are in peril”?

wow. The Ministry of Truth is powerful.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Empty words. They had the opportunity to denounce Putin and this awful war and made a point to not do so.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

While thousands of civilians face death from indiscriminate Russian bombardment during an illegal unjustified invasion of a peaceful democratic unthreatening neighbour, you sell products glorifying the person causing this appalling situation and spout pro Russian propaganda and then get upset because people react against you.

No evidence they didn’t do this them selves.

If this was vandalism, they should be deeply grateful no one is dropping cluster bombs on them!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Russian products should be put into storage for the duration and only Ukrainian products sold. A name change for the store would also be appropriate.

It is lonely being on the Russian side right now and much better for business to not admit such a thing.

Russia has shown with it's new law banning the truth being told about it's invasion of the Ukraine and a maximum 15 year jail term for doing so, that it will take all actions to suppress anything but Putins version of events domestically. Only by using VPN's can Russians see the truth for themselves.

https://www.9news.com.au/world/russia-ukraine-war-crisis-live-updates-latest-breaking-news-headlines-march-4-2022/0d8f5035-2fda-448e-9613-1c37876d11d9#post=20f1d362-2bdf-41cf-80c2-0e664fb2e680

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Agreed, their plight is unfortunate. NHK NewsWatch 9pm tonight is covering these stories of Russians in Japan feeling threatened via social media. Some feel they may have to pull their children from schools after reading commentary amongst online chats to include “I don’t want to see Russian here.” and threats of “Let’s bully Russians at school.”

In response, Japanese and other foreign resident friends & acquaintances offered reassurances and support but still some in this community feel great uneasiness and uncertainty for their future.

*- @zichi 7:05pm: “I could not find this story in the Japanese Media. Very unfortunate situation to be in.” *

2 ( +4 / -2 )

“Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

This is a true statement.

They are Russian. 14,000 of them have died as a result of Ukraine army and Nazi sympathizer militias in the past few years.

Odd facts that get lost in "fog" of war...18% of the Ukrainian population are Russian.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Russian products should be put into storage for the duration and only Ukrainian products sold. A name change for the store would also be appropriate.

Should every Russian also hide their nationality across Japan, and anything related to their culture too?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If these people are permanent residents of Japan, they can sell anything that isn't illegal and we are free to NOT purchase anything from them if we disagree. I can't imagine a store owner NOT being a permanent resident.

If something deemed insensitive was stated and the apology accepted by the offended people, it isn't my business.

It is the Russian Govt, military and Putin-trolls posting who my problem is with. Not average, peace loving, Russians.

I have some issues with Ukrainian hackers too, BTW.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Perhaps it was a flimsy old signboard. Perhaps it was cheaply made. Perhaps someone accidently ran their bike into it. Drunk people do the stupidest things.

Regardless of this "travesty", perhaps removing products with Putin's face on it would be a good idea. Or go all out and sell Trump Water and Putin Chocolate as a set.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gyomu Super stocks quite a few Russian snacks, not bad some of them.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Russian Shop in Tokyo becomes target of vandalism after owner’s controversial remarks"

Comment on the topic of THIS vandalism and its possible roots...

This is the kind of behavior against innocent people we (the Western media) normally ascribe to 'fascists' and 'nazis' (see: Kristallnacht) and the sort of people who, in a U.S. backed coup, overthrew Ukraine's democratically elected government in Kiev in February of 2014 (see: 'Svoboda', 'Right Sector') triggering the civil war in eastern Ukraine. Given America's past and present proclivity for invading countries and murdering women and children (see: Afghanistan, Iraq ("Shock and Awe")) with nary a discouraging word, I have been surprised by the full court, internationally co-ordinated media and political attacks on Russia. That is, until I discovered that Zelenskiy is a zionist and Russia is the enemy of the zionists in the Mideast (see: Syria). The 'details' have been described in adages as containing either 'G-d' or 'The Devil', and here, if we bother to look, it's quite obvious which one is dominant in this hysterical 'crisis' being sold to us and making people crazy enough to want to do this sort of scurrilous vandalism.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“Most residents of Donetsk welcome Russia.”

Most "Russian" residents of Donetsk welcome Russia. Most Ukrainians residents of Donetsk do not.

This is a true statement.

It is now.

They are Russian. 14,000 of them have died as a result of Ukraine army and Nazi sympathizer militias in the past few years.

How many thousands of Ukrainians have the Donetsk terrorists killed in that time? Please provide accurate numbers. They shelled Ukraine territory every day for the past 14 years too.

What about all the Ukrainian refugees displaced from Donetsk by the terrorists there?

When will the Russians rout out the Nazi sympathizers in Russia? Too many amongst Putin's henchmen.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nazi sympathizers in Russia? You don't know much history, do you? Many Russians may seem 'right wing' to you (thanks to American propaganda), but Nazis? Read a little detailed history of WWII regarding the Russians and ANY Nazis they came across...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“We will offer flowers every day until the end of the battle, in the hopes that Russia and Ukraine will regain peace as soon as possible.”

And that is a controversial statement? In what world? It does not even take sides. Looks like the Japanese media too have whipped many people into an anti-russian hate frenzy with their shallow reporting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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