TOKYO (Reuters) -Several dozen Japanese men have answered a Ukrainian call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia’s invasion, according to a media report on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Sunday for the formation of an “international legion,” prompting dozens from the United States and Canada to volunteer.
As of Tuesday, 70 Japanese men – including 50 former members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion – had applied to be volunteers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily said, quoting a Tokyo company handling the volunteers.
A Ukrainian Embassy spokesperson acknowledged receiving calls from people “wanting to fight for Ukraine,” but said they knew nothing further about volunteers.
A Feb 28 social media post from the embassy said it thanked Japanese for their many inquiries about volunteering but added a proviso.
“Any candidates for this must have experience in Japan’s Self-Defence Forces or have undergone specialised training,” it said.
In a new post on Twitter on Wednesday, the Ukranian embassy in Japan said it were looking for volunteers with medical, IT, communication, or firefighting experience. It was not immediately clear if the volunteer positions were remote or involved travelling to the country.
Japan has told its nationals to put off travel to Ukraine for any reason, a warning reiterated on Wednesday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who said he was aware of the reports about the volunteers.
“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 told a news conference.
“We are communicating with the Ukrainian embassy in Japan and pointed out that an evacuation advisory is in place.”
(Reporting by Elaine Lies and Sakura Murakami; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)