December.18.2022 KIP December Forum "Ukrainian students& Japanese students"

On December 18th, we invited Ukrainians living in Japan to the KIP December Froum. In the forum, we got opportunity to listen to the stories happning in Ukraine and Russian war and what Ukranian people are thiking at that moment.

【Speech and Q&A】

For today’s forum, KIP invited three Ukraine students currently studying in Japan. They shared with us their stories experienced in Ukraine before they came to Japan. The first speaker told us that Russia has been invading Ukraine not only in military ways but also in terms of cultural aspects. Especially, the impact on education systems is significant. The influence on education systems includes a prohibition of the Ukrainian language, staggered attendance, and blackout. I cannot imagine how difficult this period must be for them to face the drastic change in their school. Moreover, it is unforgivable that innocent children are being deprived of the opportunity to learn and even their lives are in danger. The second speaker told us that not only schools but also hospitals have been in danger because of the invasion. She shared a story of her parents working as doctors in Ukraine. The third speaker talked about the current situation in Ukraine using statistical data. Overall, their stories and how they conveyed their stories were very powerful and impressed us. It would have been difficult to know and think about people in Ukraine without the opportunity to hear directly from Ukrainian refugees like this forum. Although we will never fully understand their experiences, I strongly believe that we should keep their words in mind and rethink what we can do for Ukraine.

【Group discussion and Ground discussion】

We discussed the topic ‘Should posts on social networking services be censored?’ Through both the group and ground discussions, I could see the three main points of contention; (1) whether censorship is acceptable or not, (2) if it is acceptable, who should do it, and (3) if it is acceptable, how much censorship should be done. Especially, (1) was debatable. Some groups were against censorship because of the importance of access to all information, considering the current situation in Ukraine. On the other hand, other groups argued that appropriate censorship by reliable systems is necessary to eliminate the abuse of social networking services such as hate speech. What ‘appropriate’ and ‘reliable’ means in this context was also debatable. There was a consensus that governments should not be in charge of censorship as some of the governments are dictatorial and could use censorship for propaganda. However, each group had different opinions on what kind of organisations should have censorship such as IT companies or AI. In the Q&A session, many questions were asked to clarify the reasons why each group reached different conclusions. The discussion helped us to understand the pros and cons of censorship, which was very meaningful to thinking about the current situation in Ukraine as well.

【Personal Opinion】

What impressed me the most at this forum was the question asked to Ukraine students during the Q&A session; Who are your emotional supporters? One of the students answered that her emotional supporter for her is her family even though they are living in Ukraine in danger. That reminds me that what we should do for them and their country is not only financial support, but also emotional support for them. Even though we can never understand their situation and their emotion beside it, we can still listen to their voices and try to understand them. Today’s forum told us that a welcoming attitude is the first step to supporting Ukraine.

Saki Terabayashi, Waseda University, Advanced Science and Engineering, 4th year