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Resettlement woes affecting female Ukrainian refugees

22 Comments

On Aug 16, the Ukrainian embassy in Tokyo received a frantic email.

"Please assist me in getting back to Ukraine as soon as possible," it read. "I don't want to be in this country any more. I'm on the verge of a physical and mental breakdown. I can't stand the attitude of Japanese toward foreigners. Please help me."

The mail, reports Shukan Post (Oct 7-14), was from "Olena" (a pseudonym), a woman in her 30s from the northern part of Ukraine. She had been one of 20 refugees who arrived in Japan last April 5 aboard a government flight arranged by Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Upon arrival, she had been settled in an agricultural area, where her story had received considerable coverage in the mass media.

"Everybody is so kind," she had bubbled happily at the time, smiling for the cameras. "The first thing I want to do is start learning Japanese."

But just four months later, she had sent an SOS to her embassy. And two days after that, she flew back to her war-torn country.

What on earth could have happened, to change her feelings to that degree?

According to Immigration Bureau figures current to September 14, since last March Japan has admitted 1,882 Ukrainian refugees. Of these, 78 have already exited Japan. Why so soon?

"Problems among refugees are being reported, among which has been failure by guarantors to provide them with support," the responsible person at the bureau informed Shukan Post.

While guarantors in principle guarantee a foreigner's means of sustenance, return fare to their home country and conformity to the laws of Japan, they are not legally bound to do so. In most cases a guarantor sponsors a family member or acquaintance, but such is not the case for refugees, who as in Olena's case, they had never met prior to their arrival in Japan.

Mr T, her Japanese guarantor, a man in his 50s with a medical degree, works as an associate professor at an unnamed university. He was a key figure in organizing donations for Ukrainian refugees.

As it turned out, Olena would inhabit the same house as her guarantor, which was situated in a remote mountainous district.

After returning to Ukraine, she was later contacted online and told her interviewer, "Mr T was my guarantor, but to be honest, I didn't want to live under the same roof with him. Not having any other options, though, I felt I had to go along with it."

As she was dependent of Mr T's movements to go anyplace, Olena was only able to spend a single two-hour session per week at Japanese language school.

To communicate with her host, she used a palm-sized language interpreter device.

Since T's residence did not have internet connections, she finally bought a smartphone to enable text communications with her parents back in Ukraine.

About 75% of the 1,882 Ukrainian refugees in Japan are said to be female. And in cases where their Japanese guarantor is male, it is by no means unthinkable that romance might blossom. Which is precisely what happened between Olena and Mr T, about 45 days after her arrival.

"He first came on to me," she insisted. "But I liked him well enough. We began sleeping in the same room. There was nobody else around, and I wanted someone to protect me."

Shukan Post also contacted Mr T to ask about what had transpired.

"I'm a bachelor," he replied. "There was a psychological aspect to this, and then our passions were stirred.

"I was actually thinking along the lines of a marriage relationship," he added. "However, it was beyond jealousy that she repeatedly kept checking my phone messages without my permission. There were no hickeys (love bites) in any of those emails to me. It was pure paranoia on her part.

"I'm convinced she was suffering from PTSD; just the sound of wind whistling made her think of air raid sirens. She would even start hallucinating."

If Olena's sojourn seems a brief one, Shukan Post offers another example of a Ukrainian woman named Anastasia, who last June fled from her male Japanese guarantor after just one week. Even over that brief duration, he claimed his outlays for acts of hospitality had set him back nearly 1 million yen.

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What on earth could have happened, to change her feelings to that degree?

For foreign people living in Japan the answers to this question are terribly obvious and much more generalized and ingrained in the culture than the specific problem of the guarantors in the article.

In any case, the problems listed here seem avoidable, a short interview with the possible guarantors and the refugees to put some ground rules (no cohabitation with single male guarantors, a detailed document with the support that the guarantor is offering, a clear reminder of the rights and situation of the refugees, etc.) so both parts know what they are getting into.

Both cultures are extremely different, and the refugees are in a very delicate situation, just trusting that people will do fine if they have good intentions is not enough.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

As it turned out, Olena would inhabit the same house as her guarantor, which was situated in a remote mountainous "Mr T was my guarantor, but to be honest, I didn't want to live under the same roof with him. Not having any other options, though, I felt I had to go along with it."

About 75% of the 1,882 Ukrainian refugees in Japan are said to be female. And in cases where their Japanese guarantor is male, it is by no means unthinkable that romance might blossom

Having to live under the same roof with a single male guarantor in a remote mountainous house with no one around ? One can imagine how she must have felt in that setup, talking about ' romance blossoming ' sounds like sugarcoating it quite a bit to say the least.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

How was her situation even allowed to happen!? All the Euro and North American refugees have protections against these arrangements and while I’m not surprised… it’s surprising that such an obviously exploitative arrangement was allowed.

there better be Japanese side coverage of this mess because I’m sure she’s not the only one.

Also it was a cynical joke on a lot of our parts that Japan just wanted to take in the young euro girls to try and get a wife/new sex workers but dang if I was hoping it wasn’t true.

Recently we’ve had both Afghans and Ukrainian people rather go back to war torn or unstable countries than stay here. That says a lot about the situation and lack of tangible support they’ve been given despite all the smiles and handshakes for cameras we get fed.

Like I said it’s unsurprising but surprising for how blatantly uncaring they are for these people.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

...romance might blossom."

Is that what they're calling it now? And I thought that "non-consensual sexual relations" was as sugar-coated as it got.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I'd suggest watching the 1984 Film - Threads.... it's pretty relevant.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Settling a vulnerable woman with a single man. I realise that Japan has little experience at taking in refugees, having generally refused to, but surely that would be an obvious thing to avoid.

I would guess that rural communities were deemed a good idea as the refugees could become cheap farm labour, but learning Japanese in the middle of nowhere, with no net connection, is pushing it.

PTSD. Well, yeah. Refugees from a military invasion will have a lot of that. So maybe provide them with therapy rather than space in your bed.

quote: claimed his outlays for acts of hospitality had set him back nearly 1 million yen.

How? Just how? We really would like to know.

This has been bodged elsewhere too. The British government shuffled responsibility on to anyone who offered, promising them a few quid a week. . Many hosts and refugees are now seeking an alternative, which (for the UK) will see local councils required to find them places to live independently.

Much easier and cheaper to pay the Russian mafia a huge amount of bitcoin to remove the problem in the Kremlin. But governments do stick together, protecting 'enemy' governments at the expense of ordinary people.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Having to live under the same roof with a single male guarantor in a remote mountainous house with no one around ? One can imagine how she must have felt in that setup, talking about ' romance blossoming ' sounds like sugarcoating it quite a bit to say the least.

The whole article is disgusting. Its sugarcoating the whole situation of vulnerable women being taken advantage of by single men and making the men out to be the victims.

Is that what they're calling it now? And I thought that "non-consensual sexual relations" was as sugar-coated as it got.

welcome to the modern day comfort women.

"I don't want to be in this country any more. I'm on the verge of a physical and mental breakdown. I can't stand the attitude of Japanese toward foreigners. Please help me."

Pretty much the only part of the article that is honest.

But wow. Women would rather return to their war torn countries than stay here. That says a lot.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

From the article: "About 75% of the 1,882 Ukrainian refugees in Japan are said to be female. And in cases where their Japanese guarantor is male, it is by no means unthinkable that romance might blossom."

This sounds really fishy to me. Why not a equal number of Ukrainian male refugees? And the passage about romance "blossoming" with the women and Japanese male guarantors raises alarm bells in my mind. Is it "romance" or something more sinister that is going on?

Refuges should be put with families or at single women.

When women prefer a war torn country to Japan something is seriously wrong.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Did these stories make it to NHK?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

No surprise here. Matchmaking agencies (either legitimate ones or fronts for prostitution) featuring young Russian women have been common for years. That resettlement of refugees be conflated with that in the mind of some Japanese men is not surprising at all. These Ukrainian women should only have been resettled in areas where they enjoy some freedom and have support services.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@kabukilover, a lot of the Ukrainian men are staying to fight, so most of the people leaving are women and children. This is usually, but not always, the case for refugees.

I agree with everyone saying that the guarantor system is garbage and really easy for creeps to exploit. I feel bad for the Ukrainians! Imagine the powerlessness, I hope the Russian army leaves soon and the refugees can go reunite with their families. Pray for peace.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In Ukraine and Russia there is no privacy or private property respect.

That’s why the trouble.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

No surprises here.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"He first came on to me," she insisted. "But I liked him well enough. We began sleeping in the same room. There was nobody else around, and I wanted someone to protect me."

"I was actually thinking along the lines of a marriage relationship," he added. "However, it was beyond jealousy that she repeatedly kept checking my phone messages without my permission. There were no hickeys (love bites) in any of those emails to me. It was pure paranoia on her part.

What was it she actually wanted?

How could you JT community possibly twist the article as if she was raped or been treated like a sex slave by reading these parts Huh?

Not enough supports even after free food, free accommodations, daily expense, Japanese lessons? in the country where you can't communicate/no money/no family/acquaintances? What had she expected to decide to come to Japan as a stranger? Being treated like a VIP? Rather than nitpicking translation, you folks better read this original tabloid- media

https://www.news-postseven.com/archives/20220926_1796262.html?DETAIL

https://www.news-postseven.com/archives/20220926_1796263.html?DETAIL

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

kennyG@

I read the Japanese. The English hit the high spots (or low spots if you prefer), but I didn't see any glaring inaccuracies. Perhaps you could slack off a moment from your outrage and enlighten us with three or four specific examples of how JT "twisted" the article, hmmmm?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

From the original Shukan Post article..

ところが関係は長くは続かなかった。オレーナさんがある日、高田さんのスマホのメールを覗くと、別の女性と交換していたメッセージにキスマークが添えられていたという。問い詰めると、言い争いになった。以来、喧嘩を繰り返し、高田さんとの同棲が嫌になって隣の女性宅へ移った。

このままここで生きていくべきか。自問した結果、ウクライナへ戻ることを決めた。帰りのチケット、そして基金からの支援金10万円を受け取り、オレーナさんは帰国の途に着いた。

However their relation did not last long. One day Olena checked Mr T's smart phone and found message from a different woman with love bits(which Mr T denied not true) . She pressed Mr T with questions. Since then Olena and Mr T repeated arguments. Olena got fed up to live with Mr T, so moved to live with a woman next door.

She questioned herself whether she would live in Japan or not, and decided to return home. She received return flight ticket( for free) and 100,000 Yen support money from Ukraine refugee fund and left Japan.

As for Anastasia, She is still living in Japan receiving 250,000 YEN supports from local municipal community and studying Japanese by staying at Hotel ( which is owned and run by her original guarantor) for free.

She said " I am getting tired of Bento-box provided by hotel ( meaning free foods), Can't work here, so killing time by walking around here. It's about time to return to Ukraine"

アナスタシアさんはその後、元いた自治体から支援金25万円を受け取り、日本語を勉強しながらホテルに無料で宿泊している。

「ホテルから出されるお弁当も飽きてきました。働くこともできないし、散歩して暇を持て余しています。そろそろウクライナに帰りたいです」

Lastly, from the same original article...

As of Sep13, Total number of refugees evacuated outside of Ukraine is 12,700,000, of which 5,750,000 (45%) already returned to Ukraine.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

NCIS RerunsToday  04:44 pm JST

kennyG@

I read the Japanese. The English hit the high spots (or low spots if you prefer), but I didn't see any glaring inaccuracies. Perhaps you could slack off a moment from your outrage and enlighten us with three or four specific examples of how JT "twisted" the article, hmmmm?

I said JT community, meaning poster(s) here twisted the facts reported in the article. And I would say JT is practicing impression controls by hitting whichever spots by omitting several parts of the originals.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I said JT community, meaning poster(s) here twisted the facts reported in the article. And I would say JT is practicing impression controls by hitting whichever spots by omitting several parts of the originals.

You mean by including parts like this, In which "T" claimed Olena was a nut case?

「僕は独身ですから。メンタル面も含め、一緒にいたら情も湧きます。結婚前提の付き合いを考えていました。ただ、携帯のメールを勝手に何度も見られたのは嫉妬の域を超えている。問題になったメールへのキスマークはありません。彼女の被害妄想です」

続けて医学者という高田さんは、オレーナさんのこんな内情を明かす。

「彼女は来日当初からPTSD(心的外傷後ストレス障害)を抱えていました。雷が鳴ると空爆音に、風切り音が空襲警報に聞こえ、精神的に不安定でした。幻覚も出ました。全ての原因は彼女の病気にあります」

2 ( +4 / -2 )

NCIS RerunsToday  05:01 pm JST

I said JT community, meaning poster(s) here twisted the facts reported in the article. And I would say JT is practicing impression controls by hitting whichever spots by omitting several parts of the originals.

You mean by including parts like this, In which "T" claimed Olena was a nut case?

「僕は独身ですから。メンタル面も含め、一緒にいたら情も湧きます。結婚前提の付き合いを考えていました。ただ、携帯のメールを勝手に何度も見られたのは嫉妬の域を超えている。問題になったメールへのキスマークはありません。彼女の被害妄想です」

続けて医学者という高田さんは、オレーナさんのこんな内情を明かす。

「彼女は来日当初からPTSD(心的外傷後ストレス障害)を抱えていました。雷が鳴ると空爆音に、風切り音が空襲警報に聞こえ、精神的に不安定でした。幻覚も出ました。全ての原因は彼女の病気にあります」

Yep. Why not? Include that part too and everything to let readers judge without omitting any parts. At least I would assume none would think this is modern comfort women situation nor as far as to insisting on Japanese attitude problems against foreigners.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Yes I know there're so many weird NGOs which prefer to support foreigners rather than Japanese who need the same help here in Japan but in this Ukrainan case, such weird NGO is not the only part but each regional municipality and J-Govt are involved to support them all. They came here with free air fare and returned with free air fare after they realized they didn't like it here RIGHT?

I don't know this Mr. T personally, of course, who's said to be a leader of the Ukranian-refugees rescue project which fund collected 12 million yen on line. Unless the original source is reporting to confirm that he really was a dirty old Sukebe to exploit such refugees who don't have any family or acquaintance here in Japan, What does JT want by reporting partially of the original source? That is my point.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What does JT want by reporting partially of the original source? That is my point.

Who knows? My guess is there may be a budgetary issue that limits the length. Or, there may be copyright issues that would discourage a full translation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds like sex trafficking.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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