Ukrainian dentist attempts career reboot in Japan

A Ukrainian dentist who fled invading Russian forces and moved to Japan is hoping to rebuild his career in his adopted country, but first he has to navigate some imposing linguistic and administrative barriers.

Getting started

Mykyta Mykhailov arrived in Japan last May and now lives in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. In June this year, the 25-year-old landed a job as a dental assistant, a position that doesn't require a Japanese dental license. He communicates with his colleagues in simple Japanese and English.

"I'm really grateful that they took me on, and that I can watch and learn," he says.

His co-workers are equally happy with the arrangement. "He's a good learner, and an excellent colleague," says Mitsuyoshi Osamu, the owner of the clinic.

Mykyta Mykhailov, right, works as an assistant to Mitsuyoshi Osamu.


Mykhailov hails from a pro-Russian part of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. When the invasion began, Donetsk quickly became a battleground.

Mykyta Mykhailov

Mykhailov lost friends in the fighting. Fearing for his own life, he arranged with his fiancé Yana Skoryk to travel through Russia to Japan, a country that had long intrigued the young dentist for both its culture and level of dental care.

Mykyta Mykhailov and fiancé Yana Skoryk

Long road ahead

Every day, Mykhailov gets to the clinic early to practice drilling teeth on a model mouth. His goal is to get a dental license and settle down in Japan.

Mykyta Mykhailov practices and cultivates his skill.

But to qualify, he needs to pass the most challenging Japanese language test. To that end, he's been taking intensive classes and spending hours every day studying. Only after he clears that hurdle will he learn if his university qualifications allow him to sit the Japanese dentistry exam. That decision will depend on a health ministry adjudication of the quality of his education in Ukraine.

Mykyta Mykhailov shows his Japanese language book.

Lending a hand

His coworkers are doing their bit to help.

Dentist Mitsuyoshi Osamu and protégé Mykyta Mykhaіlov

"I think he's going through some hard times that he can't tell us about," Mitsuyoshi says. "What I can do to support him is provide an educational environment. I think he'll make a great dentist."

Mitsuyoshi Osamu

Despite the manifold challenges, Mykhailov has already taken to his new home. "I haven't been in Otsu City for long, but I like it a lot here. Eventually I want to be a dentist in Japan, but I'll have to wait and see."

Mykhailov assists Mitsuyoshi Osamu.
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