All’s embarrassing in love and war.

As the war in Ukraine continues, the nation’s leaders continue to appeal to the world for aid and support to overcome the odds, in the hopes that one day the horrible conditions and hardship may end.

On 25 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine took a moment to give thanks to those who responded in an emotional video message.

In the video Ukrainian General Valerii Zaluzhnyi expressed her appreciation on behalf of her country while standing in the ruins of a building devastated during the invasion. At the same time, a list of the countries who have given aid to Ukraine scrolls up the screen.

Naturally, one’s eyes would be drawn to their own country when viewing the list, so Japanese people quickly noticed that they weren’t among those thanked. What was in all likelihood an oversight was perfectly excusable considering the life-and-death struggle Ukraine is embroiled in, but some comments online could resist a little self-deprecating humor over the whole thing.

“Because Russia is threatening countries that support Ukraine, this is probably a good thing.”
“Did someone send them a lot of paper cranes?”

“What’s the big deal? People always have to get hysterical about stuff.”
“The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is probably pretty busy, so it’s nothing to get angry about.”
“It’s probably best to keep a low profile in this whole thing anyway.”
“They’re probably only mentioning the ones giving military support, since a lot more countries are giving financial aid too.”

However, it wasn’t all smiles and shrugs. The omission upset certain people who were already upset by a very recent tweet from the Ukraine government which featured Emperor Hirohito along with Hitler and Mussolini, referring to all of them as “fascists and Nazis.”

Given the fact that Japan’s WWII aggressions could be said to have had a lot more to do with then Prime Minister Hideki Tojo than the emperor, Ukraine apologized for the association and posted another message with Hirohito removed.

▼ The image appears at the end of the video, now with Hirohito removed

Without digressing into the functions of emperors and their symbolic significance of Japan, lumping him in with Hitler would be considered rather offensive to a lot of Japanese people under normal circumstances.

But under these highly abnormal circumstances it would be utterly absurd to think the Ukrainian government had either the time or the energy to make intentionally passive-aggressive slights against Japan. It’s fair to say that’s how a lot of people saw it here at least.

Nevertheless, hot off the the Hirohito controversy, some people and politicians from Japan’s ruling LDP party still decided to get even more up in arms about the thank-you video too.

“Japan is not among the supporting countries in the thank-you video of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. This is not right. I reported it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine through their embassy in Japan. It became an issue in the LDP subcommittee this morning.” (MP Masahisa Sato)

▼ “Japan is not among the countries that the Ukrainian government is thankful to. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed it.” (MP Hiroshi Yamada)

And so, it would appear that enough of a stink was raised that Ukraine took notice of the omission in MFA Ukraine’s video and took action. First, President Zelensky tweeted a message reporting that he thanked Japanese Prime Minister Kishida personally for Japan’s “important support.”

Then, on 27 April, another very similar video message of appreciation, this time by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, was tweeted and included Japan among the thanked countries.

Again, in light of the relentless horror occurring in Ukraine, it’s pretty gracious of them to take any action on such a relatively trivial matter at all. Upon seeing “Japan” now among the list, many comments from here expressed mortification that this was ever a matter to begin with.

“This is all kind of embarrassing.”
“When did we become so annoying?”
“We’re a country of complainers.”

“This is horrible. I feel bad for them.”
“When did we become a country that imposes gratitude?”

In the end, at least the matter was ironed over on a government level and the friendship between the two countries was officially reaffirmed, for what it’s worth.

If online chatter is anything to go by, though, the people in Japan who were initially upset with Ukraine are almost certainly still upset and those who weren’t are just left feeling incredibly embarrassed by the whole circus. And worst of all, the war goes on.

Source: Twitter/@MFA_Ukraine, Twitter/@DefenseU, My Game News Flash 1, 2, 3, Itai News 1, 2, 3
Top image: Twitter/@DefenseU
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