Japan has granted long-term visas as a special exception to two Russian women who left their country in opposition to its invasion of Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The two women — both in their 20s — were permitted to switch their short-term stay status to student visas without first returning to their home country as normally required, in a rare approval made in consideration of their political views.

The two friends from eastern Siberia have an interest in Japanese culture and decided to leave for Japan last September after Russia ordered a partial military mobilization, fearing they might be called up to render logistical support.