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IT firms in Japan recruit those in Ukraine to help war-torn country

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Some Japanese information technology companies are employing workers in Ukraine to support them as their country grapples with war against Russia.

The IT sector has been a driver of economic growth in Ukraine, dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe” for its abundance of tech talent.

But there are fears that human resources may leave the country because of the Russian invasion.

WORK FROM ANYWHERE

Konstantin Chvykov, 40, from Ukraine, has been working since May at the Tokyo-based IT company i3DESIGN Co., which supports companies in their digital transformation.

He oversees the recruitment of engineers in Ukraine.

Chvykov received applications from 50 people when he posted a job offer on a local job search website.

He decided to proceed with seven of them, he said.

Chvykov lived in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, where a fierce battle unfolded between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

He ran a web design business with his Japanese wife, Izumi, 38.

Relying on the support of Izumi’s parents, they came to Japan at the end of March and joined i3DESIGN.

Coincidentally, he once worked for its local branch in Kharkiv.

Most of its 15 locally recruited staff sought refuge in the western part of Ukraine or neighboring countries after the invasion.

They continue to work remotely, however, using their strength as IT professionals who can work anywhere with internet access.

Newly recruited engineers can also work wherever they want.

“We want to support them not temporarily but on an ongoing basis,” said Yoichiro Shiba, President of i3DESIGN. “There are many talented resources in Ukraine, and they also have positive effects on our growth.”

According to the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Ukraine’s IT industry has grown more than eight times in 10 years.

The nuclear and aerospace industries laid the foundation when the country was part of the Soviet Union, with the ratio of technical personnel per capita being higher than in European countries.

Large companies such as the American computer giant Google have set up bases there.

Chvykov said the number of project orders from the United States and Europe was down, however.

There are also fears that companies will pull out of Ukraine amid the protracted invasion of Russia.

ORDER IN JAPAN

Other companies place orders from Japan.

Next Age Inc., based in Osaka, outsources web design work to several companies in Ukraine.

She has awarded 11 projects worth more than 3 million yen ($22,500) since March.

“We can support them regardless of the distance,” President Daisaku Yoshimura said.

Viacheslav Kolpakov, who runs the Next Age-commissioned company, said Japan was a new market for his company, which worked with many European firms.

Tokyo-based PJ-T&C, whose business includes web design and other technical work, purchased software developed by Ukrainian engineers.

In June, Yahoo Japan Corp., Line Corp. and five other IT companies jointly organized an employment assistance seminar for Ukrainian evacuees to accelerate support momentum across the industry.

Chvykov said he hopes that not only IT companies, but also companies in other sectors, will do business with Ukrainians to sustain themselves and keep the economy going.

(This story was written by Yasuyuki Onaya and Takashi Yoshida.)