The development of cultural and humanitarian cooperation between Ukraine and Japan is an important element of deepening mutual understanding and friendly relations between the Ukrainian and Japanese peoples.
On the initiative of the President of Ukraine, 2017 was declared the year of Japan in Ukraine. This event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. As part of the "Year of Japan", a number of cultural events were held, including a campaign to plant Japanese sakura trees throughout Ukraine, a presentation of Ukrainian military paintings by the Japanese artist Natsume, and the Japanese exhibition at the "Art Arsenal" in Kyiv.
In 2021, Kyiv and Kyoto celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of twinning relations between the cities. The main events, dedicated to this anniversary, were - the 48th concert of the Terada Kyoto Ballet School; issue of the special commemorative "Kyoto-Kyiv" stamp, planting of chestnuts in Takaragaike Park in Kyoto.
At the initiative of the Ukrainian community, vyshyvankas parades are held in the cities of Tokyo and Nagoya. Activities of the Ukrainian Sunday schools "Dzhereltse" and "Hrobachok" in Tokyo, as well as the "Beregynia" school in Nagoya, ensure popularization of the Ukrainian language and traditions in Japan.
Cooperation in the area of education is mostly defined by two Japanese government programs aimed at granting financial aid to Ukrainian students, undergraduate, master and doctoral students, professors, and researchers who want to advance their Japanese language proficiency or learn Japanese expertise in their respective fields. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) offers programs to advance Ukrainian students’ knowledge of the Japanese language as well as scholarships for graduate students in various fields. The Japan Foundation implements several internship programs for doctoral students and Japanese language teachers. According to the data from the Ministry of Justice of Japan, 19 Ukrainian professors, 9 researchers, and 99 students resided in Japan as of 2020.
There is an ongoing development in cooperation between Ukrainian and Japanese universities. The Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is actively cooperating with the Ryukoku University (Kyoto), the Tenri University (Nara), the Tsukuba University, and the Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo); the Institute of Agroecology and Natural Resource Management of the National Academy of Sciences is cooperating with the Kobe Gakuin University; the Kyiv National Linguistic University - with the Osaka University of Economics and Law; the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv has academic ties with the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. An academic exchange agreement between the Toyama University of International Studies and the Odesa Mechnikov National University was signed in 2018 with the participation of the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan. In 2022, cooperation agreements were signed between Toyo University and Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University and the National Aviation University (Kyiv).
The Association of Ukrainian Studies in Japan led by Kobe Gakuin University professor Yoshihiko Okabe holds meetings on a yearly basis. The mission of the Association is to introduce Ukrainian history, economy, society, culture, and traditions to the Japanese public.
Cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries was significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemics, during which Japan was completely isolated. Namely, no audience was admitted to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The situation drastically changed after the full-scale military aggression of Russia against Ukraine. The interest and demand from the Japanese society towards the Ukrainian cultural product have rapidly grown. Since April 2022, first restaurants of Ukrainian cuisine have opened in Japan (3 in Tokyo, 1 in Osaka). Concerts and performances of Ukrainian artists gather full houses, art and photo exhibitions are being held in different regions of Japan, new books on Ukraine and Ukrainian culture are being published, and lectures and round tables are being organized by universities and expert communities. A number of Ukrainian films have been presented to the Japanese audience at film festivals and road shows.
The Ukrainian community plays an important part in these processes, being organizers or partners of many festivals and events introducing the culture of Ukraine.
In 2022, the Ukrainian language courses were launched at the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan, in Tokyo and Kyoto Universities, as well as in Kobe Gakuin University.
Many Ukrainian athletes have been invited for training or international competitions in such sports as karate, judo, badminton, tennis, sumo, wrestling, soccer etc.
Within the framework of cooperation between the Embassy of Ukraine and the Government of Japan, as well as due to efforts of Ukrainian communities and private initiatives, several wounded Ukrainian soldiers have been admitted to Japanese medical institutions for treatment and rehabilitation.
The Government, NGOs, companies and citizens of Japan are constantly providing Ukraine with significant humanitarian assistance through different channels and mechanisms, as response to Russia’s military aggression.