The story behind the viral photo of the Ukrainian ambassador with a samurai sword
Ambassador of Ukraine in Japan, Dr. Sergiy Korsunsky was photographed in traditional samurai armor while preparing for the ongoing Russian invasion of his home country.
After her photoshoot, social media went wild with speculation, rumors and misinformation about the images. Fox News Digital reached out to the Ukrainian Embassy to hear the story from the ambassador’s office itself.
The most widely shared (but false) claim about the photo is that Korsunsky is Japan’s ambassador to Ukraine. Some social media users have speculated that “his great-grandfather’s traditional samurai sword and armor were delivered to him from Tokyo, Japan. In a post on FB, he said the samurai must protect the country he is in!”
The ambassador and his staff are aware of the photo. They even tried to set the record straight several times, but ultimately the misinformation proved overwhelming and they gave up, officials told Fox News Digital.
“We are aware of this fake, but we have lost patience explaining who is who,” Korsunsky told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
However, the reality of the ambassador’s gesture is as convincing as the fictions conveyed around his photo.
“This armor was provided by samurai artist Tetsuro Shimaguchi. He is a friend of Ukraine and a friend of [mine]”, he continued. “It was a cultural project to put on real full armor to feel how Japanese warriors felt in a battle.”
The samurai photo shoot was not originally meant to be a rallying cry for support in Ukraine. However, he said, “When Russia started threatening Ukraine, [I] decided to appeal to Japanese people who remember what the bushido spirit is. It was a simple message very well received by Japan.”
Under the country’s current constitution, Japan is not allowed to have a standing army. Japanese soldiers are limited to a small but capable “self-defense force” dedicated to protecting the island from foreign powers.
“There are people who are true warriors by nature,” Korsunsky said. “We don’t believe that the spirit of the samurai is dead in Japan, it is part of historical heritage. Shimaguchi-sencei is part of the effort to renew these traditions.”
Japan’s constitution was written in English and then translated into Japanese by a team of American legal experts after the end of World War II. The Allied Forces are the authors of Article 9 – the clause that prevents Japan from raising a real army or declaring war.
The Japanese public is divided on the issue – the island has been a pacifist nation since the end of their empire, and some prefer it to continue. Members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, however, have been strong supporters of lifting the ban on the military and re-arming the country.
Korsunsky declined to comment on the Japanese military issue, saying Ukraine had no business telling Japan what to do.
“We are not in a position to advise the Japanese government. Japan is a soft superpower, highly respected and loved in the region and in Ukraine,” Korsunsky told Fox News. “Japan has its own challenges with Russia (Northern Territories) and China (Senkaku Islands).”
Korsunsky made a simple statement to the world about the ongoing invasion of his home country, thanking the Japanese and urging other nations to push back Russia.
“This is a brutal invasion,” he said, “unprovoked and cynical and the world should condemn Russia and Putin. Japan stands with Ukraine and we are very grateful to them.”