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On September 20, 2023, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Ukraine

to interview the Third Secretary Ms. Inna Ilina.

We started the interview with a speech made by Karen; 

Thank you for granting us the opportunity to interview today.

I recently came across a touching video of a young girl in a shelter in Ukraine singing the national anthem. Learning the lyrics, led me to reflect on the power of the national anthem uniting the nation. As a Japanese citizen, I feel a deeper connection when singing our national anthem, especially in sports events. We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, and we hope that you continue to find strength and inspiration through your national anthem.


Given the current situation in Ukraine, the younger generation is facing difficulties in accessing education. As some cities are under occupation, people are evacuating to foreign countries including neighbors such as Poland, as well as Japan, which have welcomed around 2,000 evacuees. However, many of those who evacuated to Japan lack fluency in Japanese and must attend expensive international schools. Thus, online education is being utilized, particularly in the extension of the quarantine due to the recent pandemic. In cities that have not been occupied, students are able to attend school but must take shelter whenever they hear sirens warning of missiles.

Nevertheless, the education process of the students in Ukraine is continuing in different countries. For instance, those in Poland are learning Polish, and Ukrainian elementary students in Japan are learning Japanese. Simultaneously, they are taking an online Ukrainian school to ensure they do not forget their native language. Ms. Inna Ilina expresses her hope that everyone has an opportunity to return to Ukraine, especially the eastern part that has been destroyed and needs rebuilding.


What do you believe unites the nation?

Ms. Inna Ilina emphasizes that the experience of war has served to unite the people of Ukraine. Throughout history, Ukraine suffered oppression, both during the Soviet era and even prior to it. As a result, they have been struggling for independence for a long time. Ms. Inna Ilina highlights that the willingness to win in war, to rebuild and restore everything, to reach independence, and to be strong is what brings Ukrainian people together. Ukrainians acknowledge that the country would be in jeopardy without this strong unity.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

During her childhood, Ms. Inna Ilina had a passion for ballet and dreamed of becoming a ballerina. In addition to ballet, she studied other dances and was also in a chorus, where she sang Ukrainian national folklore songs. As she grew older, her career aspirations shifted, and during her travels, she aspired to become a CA (cabin attendant) intrigued by the CA’s ability of communication in multiple languages.

Eventually she became a diplomat, which was a profession that her mother had recommended. Her first language being Japanese and English, she initially worked as a philologist and a university teacher. It was four years ago when she arrived in Japan, and she likes her occupation as a diplomat although it is tough and busy considering the current circumstances. She feels the strong need to complete her diplomatic mission given her knowledge in the Japanese language.

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What do you believe is the first step towards world peace?

  Unfortunately war and conflicts happen in certain areas of the world. Ms. Inna Ilina acknowledges that Japan is a unique country with a constitution that prohibits involvement in war and the supply of weapons to other nations. She realizes that this comes from how the Japanese experienced difficult times in their past war. She emphasized that Ukraine has also been a peaceful country that has never invaded other countries. To achieve world peace she emphasized the importance of teaching our kids about peace and the detrimental effects of war and that there are other beautiful and interesting things in this world other than war.


What surprised you when you came to Japan?

   Ms. Inna Ilina graduated university in 2002, studying the Japanese language, culture, history, and literature. She admires the culture and everything in Japan and upon her initial visit to Japan, she felt very comfortable and impressed at the cleanliness despite the fact that there are many people, as well as the politeness and respectfulness of the people.

What are your hopes for the relationship between the two countries?

Being a diplomat for 4 years in Japan, Ms. Inna Ilina is certain that the relations between the two countries will develop in a good manner. Both countries share common points such as the same ‘bushido’, warrior way, in which Japanese have samurais and Ukranians have cossacks. Moreover, many Ukranians enjoy Japanese culture such as ikebana, origami, sado, martial arts including judo, karate, aikido, and kendo, and cuisine including sushi, ramen, and more. In fact, there are statistics that show how much Ukranians enjoy sushi; the second highest consumer of sushi is Ukraine after Japan.

Additionally, Ms. Inna Ilina expressed her gratitude to the people of Japan who have been supporting Ukraine through the means of phone calls, letters, flowers, and food. Many Japanese were crying and giving warm messages of support through phone calls. Some Japanese sent cup ramen to the embassy knowing that the staff are working without holidays and are not able to sleep for around 3 to 4 months. There were also Japanese kids who came with their piggy banks for donation. Ms. Inna Ilina is very thankful for all the people supporting Ukraine.

Ms. Inna Ilina believes and hopes for a bright future between the two countries. In fact, she pointed out that 86 universities in Japan have accepted more than 500 Ukrainian students in different fields such as management, language, and Japanese culture. For instance, Nihon Keizai University has accepted around 80 Ukrainian students. She pointed out that these Ukrainian students gained a unique opportunity obtaining a rich knowledge of Japan, which may contribute to strengthening the relations between the two countries in the future. Moreover, she wishes that Japan would be a good teacher and help Ukraine in the restoration process as Japan is experienced in building and restoring. Currently, the cities and infrastructure has been destroyed and some towns are 90% gone.

Ms. Inna Ilina also mentioned that the two countries have good relations on the diplomatic level as well. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the G7 Hiroshima Summit and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi and Prime Minister Kishida have visited Ukraine.

Finally, Ms. Inna Ilina gave a message that when peace arrives in Ukraine, please visit Ukraine as it is an interesting place with good cuisine and rich black soil that can grow good vegetables and fruits.


  Ms. Inna Ilina emphasized the importance of educating the young generation to deal with  the world today that is developing and being globalized.


What are some traditional games you played when you were a child?

As a child, Ms. Inna Ilina was in a chorus singing folklore and played games while singing as well as card games. When she was in elementary school, she played a jumping game with three girls putting a band on her legs and jumping over the band. She would play this game between her lessons in school. On the other hand, boys would play ball games such as football and basketball.

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What can we, the Japanese, do to rebuild your country and to support the Ukrainian people?

              The Japanese are helping Ukraine with donation and humanitarian aid, and Ms. Inna Ilina hopes Japan will continue to contribute by building high quality infrastructure such as bridges and roads after the war.


Message towards Japanese students/people

Ms. Inna Ilina expressed her gratitude to the Japanese people and students for the support they give everyday such as the warm messages, donation, and humanitarian aid. She also expressed her gratitude to the Japanese people and students for remembering Ukraine although the country is located a long distance from Japan. 

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We rang the Bell of Peace with the hope of attaining global harmony.

The panel at the entrance of the embassy depicts people holding hands like a chain.

 After the interview, Ms. Inna Ilina showed us around in the embassy. She showed us around the interview room as well as a small museum they have received from Japanese people since February 2022.

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A photo book containing a variety of photos of beautiful Ukrainian landscapes, flowers, trains, etc., along with messages of support.

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This big bird painting was created by Japanese artist Kubota-san. It was drawn by using a lot of small photos from smartphones.

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