Ukrainian YouTubers ask Japanese to help Ukraine

They started with fun videos and talked about Mario Kart racing games on their YouTube channel. Now, two Ukrainian brothers who live in Japan have added a more serious topic to their videos. They tell the young Japanese the news of their country and bring the realities of the war closer to Japan.

Just before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sava Tkachov, 26, and his younger brother Yan, 20, celebrated the second anniversary of the opening of their YouTube broadcast. Now over 2 million people follow their Sawayan Channel and the Sawayan Games channel hosted by Sava.

The first word of war came from their father. He is a businessman and he came back to Kyiv two months ago. After the arrival of Russian troops, he stayed to help defend his country. The brothers’ YouTube content, which was full of tips, jokes and action videos, got more serious.

Ukrainian YouYubers Sava Tkachov, right, and her younger brother Yan Tkachov attend a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

Father in Ukraine

They worried about their 53-year-old father and their friends in Ukraine. In early March, the brothers said they also planned to volunteer as defenders. This triggered a wave of reactions, with some supporting them and others criticizing them.

The father said they shouldn’t come. The Tkachovs have no military training and quickly changed their minds. Sava said he received long and serious messages from some of his teenage fans that they wanted to follow the brothers to Ukraine.

“By sending messages through our channel, I made the kids want to go to war and I can’t tell if that was good or bad,” Sava said at a press conference on Thursday. “But at least it was meaningful that they cared about the issue.”

Sava, who uses the social media name “No War”, used her gaming channel to raise funds. He collected some 3.6 million yen, or $29,500, in three hours, and donated all of it to the Ukrainian embassy.

Yan and Sava said they also started getting messages from parents saying their children were starting to think about peace. Others thanked them for raising important social issues.

“I believe the merit of YouTube is that I can to transmit the real information from the field that my father shares with us on the situation which is very up to date. He puts it on the internet almost immediately, Sava said.

Japan was quick to join other industrialized countries in imposing restrictions on trade with Russia and providing support to Ukraine.

Tokyo also sent military equipment, but not weapons, and medical supplies to Ukraine. This is an exception to the Japanese ban on sending military equipment to countries in conflict.

The Japanese government is concerned about the effects of the Moscow war on East Asia. Tokyo has recently faced threats from North Korea and China. Due to punishments, Russia has halted peace treaty talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril Islands. Moscow has held the chain of islands north of Japan since 1945.

Sava Tkachov came to Japan with his family when he was 4 years old and studied at a major Japanese university. He thanked his adopted country for its support, but said Tokyo should maintain its peaceful role in world affairs.

“Japan is the first peaceful nation in the world (…) and what the country is doing at the moment is very appropriate“, he said. “As to the question of whether Japan should send weapons, I do not think that is the kind of role that Japan should play.

Instead, he said, Japan can help better by continuing to call for peace and play a leadership role in Asia.

He also said that Japan could shelter many Ukrainian refugees.

Some may find the language difficult or the food unusual, “but I’m sure they can overcome the difficulties with the empathy of the Japanese people and the spirit of the Ukrainians.”

I am Jill Robbins.

Mari Yamaguchi reported this story for The Associated Press. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learn English.


words in this story

channel – nm a regular location on the Internet to send or receive broadcasts

to transmitv. make known; communicate through words, actions, appearance, etc.

adoptv. accept or start using something new

punishments nm provisions of a law enacting a penalty for disobedience or a reward for obedience

appropriateadj. appropriate or acceptable for a particular situation.

empathynm the ability to imagine what it must be like to be in someone’s situation

What do you think of the efforts of the Ukrainian brothers? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.

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