TOKYO, Japan: Seventy Japanese men, including 50 former members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion, have volunteered to fight for Ukraine against Russia, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, quoting a Tokyo company coordinating the delivery of volunteers to Ukraine.
Keiichi Kurogi, 39, was one of the dozens of men in Japan who offered to join an “international legion” to fight Russian invaders after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called for volunteers.
Kurogi told Reuters that he telephoned the Ukrainian embassy in Japan after seeing its plea for volunteers on Twitter, stating, “When I saw images of elderly men and women in Ukraine holding guns and going to the front, I felt I should go in their place,” as quoted by Reuters.
However, the embassy declined Kurogi’s offer to fight, as he lacked the necessary military experience.
A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Embassy acknowledged receiving calls from people “wanting to fight for Ukraine.”
In a 28th February social media post, the embassy thanked the Japanese people for their many inquiries about volunteering but added a proviso.
“Any candidates for this must-have experience in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces or have undergone specialized training,” the embassy said.
Earlier, the Ukrainian embassy in Japan tweeted that it was also looking for volunteers with medical, IT, communication, or firefighting experience.
Japan has told its nationals not to travel to Ukraine for any reason, which was reaffirmed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
“The Japanese foreign ministry has issued an evacuation advisory for all of Ukraine and we want people to stop all travel to Ukraine, regardless of the purpose of their visit,” he said during a news conference.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo hundreds gathered for a protest against the Russian invasion last week, and the Ukrainian embassy said it has collected $17 million in donations from some 60,000 people in Japan.
Among those who donated was 23-year-old Ryoga Seki, who is a computer science post-graduate student in Osaka, who donated 100,000 yen ($868), his entire month’s wages from his part-time tutoring job, to Ukraine.
“There are many people here, like me, who want to do something but cannot move around right now,” he said, according to Reuters.