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Japanese group to offer free language education, financial support to Ukrainian evacuees

Ukrainian evacuees are seen heading for a train bound for Germany at a station in Krakow, Poland, on March 16, 2022. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

TOKYO -- In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, vocational schools and Japanese language schools across Japan have launched a volunteer group to support Ukrainian students who have evacuated to Japan.

    The schools will accept young evacuees as students, and provide support including free Japanese language education and living cost subsidies. The Japanese Supports for Ukrainian Students (JSUS)'s initial goal is to accept about 100 evacuees.

    After the Japanese government announced it will accept evacuees from Ukraine, vocational school Seifu Institute of Information Technology (I-seifu) in Osaka's Abeno Ward called on Japanese language schools nationwide to help, and a total of 15 schools in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kumamoto and other prefectures agreed to join the support effort.

    The 15 schools will each accept up to about 10 evacuees aged around 18 to 30, and help them improve their Japanese proficiency and build the foundations of a life here. In addition to providing Japanese language education free of charge for two years, each evacuee accepted by the schools will get a lump-sum payment of 120,000 yen (about $1,000), plus a monthly living assistance stipend of 30,000 yen (around $250) for half a year. Funds will be raised through crowdfunding and other means.

    Preparations are underway to start accepting Ukrainian evacuees by the end of March. With the cooperation of a nongovernment organization that helps Syrian refugees come to Japan, the JSUS will also provide program information in Ukraine and help families leave the country.

    I-seifu Principal Norito Hiraoka said, "Japanese language schools are equipped with the know-how needed to start a new life from scratch. I want people from Ukraine to spend their time in Japan in good conditions."

    Crowdfunding initiatives will soon begin on a website that can be accessed from the JSUS's office homepage at: https://www.jsus.info/ (in Japanese, English and Ukrainian).

    (Japanese original by Yongho Lee, Machida Resident Bureau)

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