A Russian Family Restaurant in Japan Supports Ukrainian Refugees
April 19, 2022
CHIBA — A Russian woman and her daughter who run a Russian restaurant in Chiba offer to support the daily lives of Ukrainians who have fled their country.
Anastasia Stetsyuk, 40, and her 20-year-old daughter, Daiana, have roots in Ukraine and are helping Ukrainians with phone and social media consultations, in the hope that people who have gone through difficulties as a result of the Russian invasion will at least feel safe in Japan. They also plan to hire Ukrainian refugees in their restaurant.
“The war has begun.” “Bombs were dropped on stations and squares.” Anastasia received such messages on social media from relatives living in Ukraine on February 24, the day the Russian invasion began. The pair watched the television news in dazed silence, although relatives in Russia said they heard the action was part of a Russian military exercise.
Both mother and daughter are from Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East. Anastasia’s father, originally from Ukraine, moved to Khabarovsk with his family during World War II when she was a child. About 20 years ago, Anastasia came to Japan for her work. Daiana then joined her mother when she was 6 years old. Four years ago, they opened a Russian restaurant called Matryoshka near JR Chiba Station in Chuo Ward, Chiba City.
Anastasia, who has strong ties to Ukraine, was heartbroken by the tragic news broadcast daily and could not sit still. After expressing her willingness to support people on the restaurant’s social media account, she was contacted by Ukrainians in Japan.
So far, she has contacted about 10 of these people. Among them, a mother in her 40s and a man who fled Ukraine alone, and Anastasia was asked where they could get relief money or find jobs in places they were taking refuge. She presented them to government agencies when necessary.
Some of them shed tears as they told Anastasia and Daiana about their concerns. Daiana had trouble understanding Japanese as a child. “In a foreign country, just having someone to lean on can be helpful,” she said.
Anastasia has many relatives and friends in Ukraine. Daiana said: “The languages are similar and I have known Ukrainian books and songs since I was a child.”
Meanwhile, thoughtless messages such as “Go back to your home country” and “Are you still in Japan?” were posted on the restaurant’s social media account. However, Anastasia and Daiana are determined to continue doing what they can to help Ukrainians. They want to hire Ukrainians in their restaurant if work visas are granted.
They believe that a wide circle of support can be created if people work together.