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Editorial: As Ukrainian evacuees arrive in Japan, more generous humanitarian aid needed

Twenty evacuees from Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia, arrived by Japanese government aircraft at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

    The evacuees traveled with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi who was flying back from his visit to Poland, which has accepted a large number of Ukrainian evacuees.

    Those eligible for the trip were people who wished to come to Japan but did not have the means to do so themselves. It is rare for the Japanese government to accept evacuees in such a manner.

    Thus far, 404 people from Ukraine have depended on friends and family to come to Japan to escape the war.

    The people who have evacuated to Japan will be given a one-year visa that allows them to work. For those who do not have friends or family here, the Japanese government will prepare temporary accommodations. They will be provided with money to spend on living expenses and medical care, and will receive assistance in learning the Japanese language and job training.

    Local government bodies, companies and civic organizations have raised their hand one after another, volunteering to offer accommodations and to introduce work to the evacuees. Collaboration is crucial for the right people to receive the right assistance.

    The prolonged Russian attack has led to continued suffering for the people of Ukraine. Japan must go on to provide more generous support.

    According to the United Nations, there are at least 4 million Ukrainian refugees. Neighboring countries such as Poland, Romania and Moldova have accepted most of them, but the financial burden of doing so is great.

    It is essential to offer assistance to these countries as well. The Japanese government has decided to contribute $200 million (24.5 billion yen) in aid. It should provide fine-tuned responses that suit the situations on the ground while cooperating with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

    It is important not to let the latest efforts become temporary or transient. Humanitarian crises are happening all over the world.

    For people from Myanmar who cannot go back to their country because of the coup d'etat staged by the national military, the Japanese government has taken the emergency measure of allowing them to stay longer in the country regardless of their original visa status. But the extended period that they are permitted to stay is limited to an extra six months, which has been pointed out as being too short.

    Japan has been criticized internationally that its standards for certifying refugee status are too strict. It gives people who have fled wars not refugee status, but permission to stay in Japan out of humanitarian considerations.

    Refugees are allowed long-term residency in the countries that accept them, and are guaranteed a wide range of rights. It is a worldwide trend to treat people who have fled their countries due to armed conflict as refugees.

    Japan as a society must use the case of Ukraine to review how it will carry out humanitarian assistance going forward.

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