The Japanese community in New York City showed solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The streets of Manhattan bubbled with excited bystanders and richly decorated floats as samurai led a celebratory column of the Japan Day Parade past Central Park. Among the extravaganza of traditional Japanese costumes and modern popular culture, one of the groups carried a sizeable Ukrainian flag.

The Japan Parade was organized by the Consulate of Japan in New York to celebrate Japanese culture, food, and traditions, as well as the 150 anniversary of the establishment of the Consulate. The organizers say the event also aims to show solidarity for other Asian nations as it celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Yet the scope stretched even further: the Japanese Consulate also invited UNWLA to participate in the parade, showing support for the Ukrainian people fighting Russian aggression.

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Our President Natalia Pawlenko shared the festival stage with the Grand Marshal, Star Trek actor George Takei, and Ambassador Mikio Mori, among others. In her brief speech, she thanked the Japanese community in NY and the Japanese Consulate for showing solidarity with Ukraine. “Thanks to your speech and the participation of all Ukrainian friends, our parade turned out to carry more positive meaning too.” Futoshi Matsumoto, Deputy Chief of Mission, Deputy Consul-General of Japan in New York, noted.

Our organization was chosen to be the recipient of the funds collected at the Charity Tent at the Parade. For every donation of $20 or more, participants would receive an official Japan Parade tote bag. The artist is Alexandra E. Tataru, grand prize winner of the Japan Parade Art Contest. All proceeds will go to support Ukraine. Maria Venger, an active Soyuzanka shared: “The UNWLA had a pleasure to march along with the honorable guests and all the great people from the Japanese community. We felt the support and solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians that was expressed and hope for the war to be over and we can celebrate victory soon.”

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In appreciation of own culture and community, it is also important to support the communities and cultures around us. Not only does it promote mutual cultural understanding and stronger partnership ties but also contributes to a positive image of our culture abroad.