We came across a viral tweet:
The tweet’s caption states that in the midst of the Russian invasion, the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine stayed in Kyiv and had his great-grandfather’s “samurai sword and traditional armour delivered to him from Tokyo, Japan”. The tweet also states that the ambassador had declared in a Facebook post that “the samurai must protect the country in which he is (sic)”.
Along with the tweet is a photo of an individual (purportedly the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine) decked out in what appears to be full Samurai armour. The Ukrainian trident is also seen on the wall behind him.
The tweet was posted on the account of Visegrád 24, which is said to post “news, politics, current affairs, history and culture from the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia)”. Since it was posted on 24 February 2022, the tweet had garnered over 47,400 likes and 8,700 retweets.
Individual in photo is actually the Ukrainian ambassador to Japan
When we did a Google search of the keywords “japan ambassador ukraine samurai”, we came across multiple articles debunking the claims made.
For one, the individual in the photo is not Kuninori Matsuda, the current Japanese ambassador to Ukraine. Below is a photo of him, for reference:
The text in Japanese translates to reflect the same message written in English: “We know what we are fighting for. How about Russia?”.
Ambassador Korsunsky took to Facebook to refute the false claims being made in the viral tweet, and reiterated that the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine is his “kind and respected colleague” Kuninori Matsuda.
Reuters also noted that it is unable to confirm if Ambassador Matsuda is still in Ukraine.
The claim that the armour was shipped from Japan to Ambassador Matsuda in Ukraine is also false, given that the viral image does not even show him in the armour, but Ambassador Korsunsky instead. Additionally, according to Japan-based publication SoraNews24, the armour was provided to Ambassador Korsunsky by samurai artist Tetsuro Shimaguchi, who lives in Japan and teaches kengido, a style of samurai swordplay.
Shimaguchi had been pictured with a maskless Ambassador Korsunsky in a 19 February tweet:
Therefore, it is false that the image shows the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine in Kyiv decked out in his great-grandfather’s “samurai sword and traditional armour”, and that he is still staying in Ukraine because “the samurai must protect the country in which he is (sic)”.