50 years in Ukraine after remaining in Karafuto, Furihata “happy to have arrived safely” at emotional reunion with sisters in Asahikawa

Furihata Hidekatsu (front row, 4th from left) takes a commemorative photo with his siblings with whom he was reunited, along with his grandchildren who returned with him. March 20, Asahikawa Airport

Furihata Hidekatsu (78), who remained in Karafuto (Sakhalin in the Russian Far East) after World War II and later lived in Ukraine for more than 50 years, has returned to Japan after escaping the military invasion by Russia, and arrived at Asahikawa Airport on March 20. His sister, Hatakeyama Reiko (70) lives in Asahikawa. Two other sisters from Sapporo also came to the airport that day and were happy to be reunited.
Hidekatsu, who had returned to Japan with his granddaughter (18), grandson’s wife (27), and great-grandson (2) the day before, arrived at Asahikawa Airport on the 20th with Reiko, who met them at Narita Airport. When he and his family appeared at the arrival gate, he hugged his younger sisters Fumiko (72) and Harumi (68), who were both in tears.

Hidekatsu said, “I am happy to finally arrive safely with my family after a long journey,” adding, “I am against war. I pray that, one-day, the relationship between Ukraine and Russia will be resolved.” As for whether he will return to Ukraine or remain in Japan after the situation settles down, he said, “I want to rest a little first and then think about it.”
Fumiko, who has not seen her brother for 10 years, expressed her relief, saying, “I am relieved he finally arrived in Asahikawa.” Reiko also expressed her relief, saying, “I thought I might never see them again. I can’t think about the future, but someone will help us. Things will work out.”

At the end of the war, as his elder brother was injured, Hidekatsu, who was one year old at the time, was forced to remain in southern Karafuto, which was still under Japanese rule. Subsequently, in 1971, he and his wife moved to Ukraine. He has been at the mercy of the war, twice.
Ms. Saito, chair of the Japan Sakhalin Association, a non-profit organization, appealed for support, saying, “Next, it is important to think about their lives from now on. They will need support in the future, too.”


Asahikawa City