Japanese Photojournalist Injured in Ukraine During New Year’s Eve Attack

Japanese photographer Wataru Sekita was injured in Ukraine on New Year’s Eve when the hotel he was staying in was attacked along with other residential buildings, schools, and a concert hall. Four people died and dozens were injured, according to French news network France 24.

Sekita is working as a photojournalist for a leading Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, covering the war in Ukraine. The incident took place during a large-scale Russian attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Reports from various news agencies say Russian missiles describe civilian targets, though the Russian Defense Ministry claimed in a statement on Telegram posted in Russian that its attacks were on “facilities of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine involved in the manufacture of attack unmanned aerial vehicles used to carry out terrorist attacks against the Russian Federation.” The statement added that the target was reached.

A video from YouTube channel Ukraine United shows the photographer with an apparent leg injury loaded onto a stretcher and into an ambulance by medical personnel. In the video, Sekita appears to be responsive and is able to move himself on the stretcher to get into the appropriate position.

“The hotel where I was staying was attacked by Russia and my right leg was injured. thank you. My leg still hurts, but I’m fine. I will go home for now. I would like to continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine, so I ask for your continued support. #Ukraine,” Sekita wrote in a translated tweet on January 3.

The Japanese embassy responded on Facebook on January 1 in a translated post: “The Japanese Embassy is deeply outraged by a repeated mass attack on civilians and civilian facilities in Ukraine on New Year’s Eve which resulted in the deaths and injuries of civilians, including a Japanese journalist.”

A view of damage after rockets fired by Russian forces hit the center of Ukrainian capital Kyiv on December 31, 2022. Russian strikes targeted several regions of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, where the attacks killed at least one person and wounded several others, Ukrainian officials said. | Depositphotos.

Two other journalists were counted among the injured, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Björn Stritzel, who works for a German newspaper, was injured in Druzhkivka in the east, along with an unidentified Ukrainian journalist. Stritzel told CPJ he was doing fine and did not need hospitalized and that the Ukrainian journalist, who was sitting in the dining room with him but whose name he did not know, “received bruises from being hit by debris.”