Japanese man opens restaurant to provide free meals to residents of war-hit Ukraine city(日本人男性が戦禍のウクライナに無料レストラン開店)

Children in Kharkiv, Ukraine, eat a free meal at FuMi Caffe.(Photo left)Fuminori Tsuchiko shows his Kharkiv honorary citizen award in Minami-Soma.(photo right)(「FuMi Caffe(フミカフェ)」で食事をするウクライナ・ハリコフ市の子どもたち(写真左)ハリコフ栄誉市民賞の賞状を披露する土子文則さん(南相馬市で)(写真右))

 A 75-year-old Japanese man who currently lives in war-hit Kharkiv, Ukraine, has opened a restaurant to provide free meals to residents affected by Russia's invasion of the country.
 Fuminori Tsuchiko recently came back to Japan temporarily and told his supporters in Minami-Soma, about his activities.


 Hailing from Tokyo, Tsuchiko first volunteered after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Making use of his qualification as a home-care worker, he spent seven months as a volunteer caregiver based in Minami-Soma.


 Tsuchiko later moved to Poland to learn more about the Holocaust. Six months after that, in February last year, Russia invaded Ukraine. He went to Kyiv and began sorting supplies at a volunteer center with the belief that "volunteering will become meaningless if it is not continued."


 In Kyiv, Tsuchiko witnessed an unexpected sight. Volunteers were selling a portion of the relief supplies gathered from all over the world. In some cases, supplies for only 150 people were left even though there had originally been enough for 500.


 "I thought I must go to the frontlines and hand them over myself," he recalled.
 In March last year, Tsuchiko left for Kharkiv, near the Russian border. To help residents who had lost their homes and were taking shelter in a subway station, he himself took up residence there and served meals to between 150 and 200 evacuees in the station.


 He opened a restaurant called FuMi Caffe in Kharkiv in April.
 At the restaurant, Tsuchiko encourages people to follow a Japanese-style manner of "standing in line and waiting your turn" and makes sure that not only adults but children are also served.

 今年4月には無料レストラン「FuMi Caffe(フミカフェ)」をハリコフに開いた。「列に並び順番を守る」との日本流のマナーを呼びかけ、子どもたちにも食事が行き渡るよう気を配っている。

 At first, Tsuchiko used his own pension to fund his activities, but he is now able to cover the expenses with donations from his supporters. In recognition of these activities, Tsuchiko received an honorary citizen award from Kharkiv in May.


 "I want to keep supporting the children until they grow up to become adults who can take charge of Ukraine's reconstruction," he said.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2023年6月7日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】