FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show The Japanese Ambassador To Ukraine Dressed As A Samurai?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine dressed in samurai attire promising to protect Ukraine.

Verdict: False

The photo shows Sergiy Korsunsky, the Ukrainian ambassador to Japan, not Kuninori Matsuda, the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine.

Fact Check:

On Feb. 24, Russia attacked Ukraine with airstrikes and ground forces in what Russian President Vladimir Putin labeled a “special military operation,” according to Axios. Putin ordered nuclear deterrent forces in the country to be on “high alert” amid the ongoing fighting in Ukraine, NBC reported.

A Facebook image, which has been shared over 400 times, shows a man allegedly identified as Matsuda wearing traditional samurai armor and holding a sword. “The Japanese ambassador to Ukraine stayed in Kiev,” reads text included in the image. “His great-grandfather’s samurai sword and traditional armor was delivered to him from Tokyo, Japan. In a [Facebook] post, he declared that the samurai must protect the country in which he is! ‘Glory to Japan! Glory to Ukraine!'”

However, the man in the picture is not Matsuda. A reverse image search revealed the photo was originally posted by Korsunsky on his Twitter account Feb. 14, over a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. “We know what we are fighting for. How about Russia?” Korsunsky’s caption reads in both English and Japanese. (RELATED: Does This Image Show Ukrainian Christians Praying In February 2022?)

Korsunsky soon took to Facebook to clarify that the picture did not show Ambassador Matsuda. In a Feb. 23 Facebook post, written in Ukrainian, Korsunsky stated, “Again and again I’m asked to rebuke that strange fake that went out around the world… How could it be considered here that this is my kind and respected colleague Ambassador of Japan to Ukraine Mr. Kuninori – I don’t understand, but this is my last attempt to refute the fake, there is no time for this.”

Korsunsky’s Facebook post included the image in question.

Japan evacuated most of its embassy staff on Feb. 14 amid heightened tensions between Ukraine and Russia, according to Kyodo News. Ambassador Matsuda is one of no more than 10 personnel that remained in the country as of Feb. 26, the outlet reported.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter