Since mid-March, Pathways Japan (PJ), in cooperation with universities, Japanese language schools and Ukrainian communities in Japan, has been calling for applicants in Ukraine and neighbouring countries who wish to come to Japan. We have received applications from 397 people, including inquiries via partner organisations (universities, Japanese language schools). We are surprised at the number of applicants, which is more than we initially expected, and at the same time we realise that there is a need for PJ’s programmes to provide a pathway to education.
The majority of applicants are women in their 20s.
― Those who have fled the ravages of war and are seeking refuge in a safe place within Ukraine for now, and are looking for a safer and more secure refuge beyond that.
― Those whose parents let them go to live with relatives in Europe just before the Russian invasion, but who wish to use the Japanese language they were learning to study in Japan.
― Those who were separated from their parents during the evacuation and still have no contact with them and do not know if they are safe.
Although each person’s background varies, many applicants have studied Japanese before and wish to come to Japan to make use of the Japanese they have learned. Parents are encouraged to apply for the programme, knowing that it will be a long separation, as they want to send their children alone to a safe place.
Selection interviews are conducted online by a selection committee made up of PJ staff and external experts. Interviews are conducted between 3pm and 10pm Japan time, taking into account time differences, and last between 30 and 45 minutes per person
In addition to the applicant’s motivation, the selection process checks the applicant’s Japanese language skills, academic ability, ability to adapt to Japanese society and the effects of warfare, and based on these markets, makes a comprehensive decision.
What kind of path do you want to take in the future by learning Japanese, and whether the foundation for acquiring the Japanese language skills necessary to realise this sufficient from an objective viewpoint? Will they be able to leave their families in an unstable situation and adjust to Japanese society, which is often different from the Ukrainian society? Will it be difficult for them to come to Japan and become independent under these conditions due to their high vulnerability; are there any other opportunities for them to receive education other than participating in the PJ programme? We have received numerous applications and all are in need of shelter, but PJ is working to provide a pathway to refuge for as many people as possible by means of the ‘Refugee Reception through Education’.
PJ’s project is based on the practice of Canada, which was one of the first countries to take up refugee admission through private initiative. Orii, the representative of PJ, has also received training and learned about such initiatives in Canada.
Based on many years of experience in accepting refugees in the private sector, it is very important in Canada to ‘adjust expectations’ of candidates at the selection stage. We place great importance on informing candidates in advance of the harsh realities of setting up a new life and becoming self-reliant in the country they have fled, which is not always easy and does not always work out as expected. It is not easy for the selection process to communicate these things to people who are fleeing for their lives. However, it is a situation that both the candidates and the host society would like to avoid, if possible, if they are not able to adjust to society after they arrive and say that it was not supposed to be like this.
As for the first group, we plan to complete the interviews this week and finalise the candidates by the weekend. We will then rush to apply for visas and arrange plane tickets. At the earliest, a visit to Japan will be possible in mid-April.
In addition to the Japanese Government’s swift action, various expressions of support from companies and local authorities continue to be received. In addition to the prompt action of the Japanese Government, various companies and local authorities have also expressed their support for accepting the displaced people.