TOKYO – Around 70 Japanese men have volunteered to fight for Ukraine as of Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The 70 men include 50 former members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and two French Legion veterans, according to a Reuters report citing the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, which cited a Tokyo company handling the volunteers.
On February 28, the Ukrainian embassy thanked the Japanese for their inquiries about volunteering, but added that combat experience is required.
The statement said: “Any candidates for this must have experience in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces or have undergone specialised training.”
An embassy spokesperson acknowledged receiving phone calls from people expressing a desire to fight, but they had no information about the volunteers.
On March 2, the Ukrainian embassy in Japan announced on Twitter that it was looking for volunteers with medical, IT, communication, or firefighting experience.
Japan nationals told not to go to Ukraine
Japan has told its nationals to avoid travelling to Ukraine for any reason.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said he is aware of the reports of Japanese 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 purpose of their visit,” he told a news conference.
“We are communication with the Ukrainian embassy in Japan and pointed out that an evacuation advisory is in place.”
Volunteers called to arms
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called for an “international legion” to fight Ukraine’s war.
There were responses from volunteers from United States and Canada.
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar posted on Facebook on Feb. 28 that thousands of people around the world have responded.
It is not known if the overseas volunteers will be paid a stipend but the Ukrainian government is offering its own troops 100,000 hryvnias — the equivalent of S$4,500 — a month to enlist.
Japan has maintained a self-defence force after World War II.