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When Masaki Ito saw Ukrainians who had fled their country arriving in Japan on TV, it brought back strong memories. Specifically, it reminded him of the day he first came to Japan himself over 40 years ago, as part of the so-called boat people — refugees from Vietnam who desperately sought refuge after years of war.

“It breaks my heart,” said Ito, 53, who was born as Tran Anh Tuan, his Vietnamese name. Referring to the Ukrainians — and perhaps himself — he added, “Fleeing to another country … it’s life changing.”

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