Japan to end travel support program for evacuees from Ukraine

NHK has learned the Japanese government's travel support program for people evacuating from Ukraine to Japan using commercial flights will end this month.

Japan started the program in April last year as an emergency measure following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The government has been securing seats on commercial flights from Poland once a week for evacuees from Ukraine, and bearing the costs on behalf of them.

More than 270 people have so far used the program to travel to Japan.

The Japanese government is ending the program as a new system under the revised immigration law will be launched in December.

Under the new system, people who have fled conflict areas but do not meet Japan's criteria for refugee status will be given safeguards similar to those that refugees receive.

The system focuses on helping people settle in Japan. People recognized as eligible for the system will be given the same resident status as those recognized as refugees. They will also be allowed to receive Japanese language lessons and employment support.

Another factor behind the ending of the travel support is believed to be declining demand. The number of people who use the program has recently decreased to about one person per flight.

The Immigration Services Agency says it will focus on helping evacuees from Ukraine settle in Japan under the new system.