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Japanese man who grew up in Sakhalin and fled Ukraine to take language lessons in Hokkaido

Hidekatsu Furihata, second from right, and his granddaughter Vladyslva, third from right, look at Japanese textbooks in Higashikawa, Hokkaido, on May 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Nobuaki Tsuchiya)

HIGASHIKAWA, Hokkaido -- A 78-year-old Japanese man who grew up in Sakhalin, Russia, and recently fled Ukraine to Hokkaido will take Japanese language lessons here.

    Hidekatsu Furihata, together with his three family members who left Ukraine after the Russian invasion, arrived in the city of Asahikawa, Hokkaido, where his sister lives, on March 20. Furihata and his granddaughter Vladyslva, 18, will take special Japanese lessons at the neighboring town's municipal Higashikawa Japanese Language School, and they had an orientation meeting there on May 9. They will stay at the school's dorm about three to four days a week to learn the language for approximately three months.

    The Higashikawa Municipal Government had made an offer to the Hokkaido Prefectural Government to accept evacuees from Ukraine at its language school. On May 9, a teacher explained the curriculum and gave Japanese textbooks to Furihata and Vladyslva.

    Furihata, who was an infant in Sakhalin when World War II ended, cannot speak Japanese. He said through an interpreter: "I'm getting accustomed to life in Japan. I'd like to study hard so that I will be able to carry out daily conversation."

    (Japanese original by Nobuaki Tsuchiya, Asahikawa Bureau)

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