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Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara

Overview


was a Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 who served as Vice-Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 or residents of Lithuania. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives.
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Encyclopedia
Chiune Sugihara
Born 1 January 1900
Yaotsu, Gifu
Yaotsu, Gifu
is a town located in Kamo District, Gifu, Japan.As of July 2011, the town has an estimated population of 11,855. The total area is 128.81 km².Yaotsu was the birthplace of Chiune Sugihara and is home to the Chiune Sugihara Memorial.-External links:...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

Died
Kamakura, Kanagawa
Kamakura, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, about south-south-west of Tokyo. It used to be also called .Although Kamakura proper is today rather small, it is often described in history books as a former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency during the...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...



was a Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 who served as Vice-Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 or residents of Lithuania. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives. In 1985, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 honored him as Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

 for his actions.

Early life


Chiune Sugihara was born 1 January 1900, in Yaotsu
Yaotsu, Gifu
is a town located in Kamo District, Gifu, Japan.As of July 2011, the town has an estimated population of 11,855. The total area is 128.81 km².Yaotsu was the birthplace of Chiune Sugihara and is home to the Chiune Sugihara Memorial.-External links:...

, a rural area in Gifu Prefecture
Gifu Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the Chūbu region of central Japan. Its capital is the city of Gifu.Located in the center of Japan, it has long played an important part as the crossroads of Japan, connecting the east to the west through such routes as the Nakasendō...

 of the Chubu region
Chubu region
The is the central region of Honshū, Japan's main island. Chūbu has a population estimate of 21,886,324 as of 2008.Chūbu, which means "central region", encompasses nine prefectures : Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, Yamanashi, and often Mie.It is located directly...

 to a middle-class father, Yoshimi Sugihara (杉原好水 Sugihara Yoshimi), and Yatsu Sugihara (杉原やつ Sugihara Yatsu), a samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

-class mother. He was the second son among five boys and one girl.

In 1912, he graduated with top honors from Furuwatari Elementary School, and entered Daigo Chugaku founded by Aichi prefecture (now Zuiryo high school), a combined junior and senior high school. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a physician, but Chiune deliberately failed the entrance exam by writing only his name on the exam papers. Instead, he entered Waseda University
Waseda University
, abbreviated as , is one of the most prestigious private universities in Japan and Asia. Its main campuses are located in the northern part of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Founded in 1882 as Tokyo Senmon Gakko, the institution was renamed "Waseda University" in 1902. It is known for its liberal climate...

 in 1918 and majored in English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. At that time, he entered Yuai Gakusha, the Christian fraternity which had been founded by Harry Baxter Benninhof, a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 pastor. In 1919, he passed the Foreign Ministry Scholarship exam. The Japanese Foreign Ministry recruited him and assigned him to Harbin
Harbin
Harbin ; Manchu language: , Harbin; Russian: Харби́н Kharbin ), is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, lying on the southern bank of the Songhua River...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where he also studied the Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 languages and later became an expert on Russian affairs.

Lithuania



In 1939, he became a vice-consul of the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. His other duty was to report on Soviet and German troop movements.

Sugihara is said to have cooperated with Polish intelligence, as part of a bigger Japanese-Polish cooperative plan. After the Soviet takeover of Lithuania in 1940, many Jewish refugees
Jewish refugees
In the course of history, Jewish populations have been expelled or ostracised by various local authorities and have sought asylum from antisemitism numerous times...

 from Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 (Polish Jews) as well as Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

 tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas it was dangerous to travel, yet it was impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan. The Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 consul Jan Zwartendijk
Jan Zwartendijk
Jan Zwartendijk was a Dutch businessman and diplomat who helped Jews escape Lithuania during World War II.Zwartendijk directed the Philips plants in Lithuania. On June 19, 1940, he was also a part-time an acting consul of the Netherlands - or, to be exact, of the Dutch government-in-exile...

 had provided some of them with an official third destination to Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, a Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 island and Dutch colony that required no entry visa, or Dutch Guiana (which, upon independence in 1975, became Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

). At the time, the Japanese government required that visas be issued only to those who had gone through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds. Most of the refugees did not fulfill these criteria. Sugihara dutifully contacted the Japanese Foreign Ministry three times for instructions. Each time, the Ministry responded that anybody granted a visa should have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, with no exceptions.

From 18 July to 28 August 1940, aware that applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara began to grant visas on his own initiative, after consulting with his family. He ignored the requirements and issued the Jews with a ten-day visa to transit through Japan, in direct violation of his orders. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an extraordinary act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

 at five times the standard ticket price.

Sugihara continued to hand write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month's worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. On the night before their scheduled departure, Sugihara and his wife stayed awake writing out visa approvals. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station
Kaunas Railway Station
Kaunas Railway Station is a Lithuanian Railways central railway station at the eastern edge of central part of Kaunas, Lithuania. Kaunas Railway Station was included into the Registry of Immovable Cultural Heritage Sites of the Republic of Lithuania in 2003....

, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train's window even as the train pulled out.

In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, “please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.” When he bowed deeply to the people before him, someone exclaimed, “Sugihara. We’ll never forget you. I’ll surely see you again!”

Sugihara himself wondered about official reaction to the thousands of visas he issued. Many years later, he recalled, "No one ever said anything about it. I remember thinking that they probably didn't realize how many I actually issued."

The total number of Jews saved by Sugihara is in dispute, estimating about 6,000; family visas—which allowed several people to travel on one visa—were also issued, which would account for the much higher figure. The Simon Wiesenthal Center
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Simon Wiesenthal Center , with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, was established in 1977 and named for Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter. According to its mission statement, it is "an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time...

 has estimated that Chiune Sugihara issued transit visas for about 6,000 Jews and that around 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees are alive today because of his actions. Polish intelligence produced some false visas. Sugihara's widow and eldest son estimate that he saved 6,000 Jews from certain death, whereas Boston University professor and author, Hillel Levine, thinks it was far higher at around 10,000. According to Levine's 1996 biography of Sugihara, In Search of Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat issued 3,400 transit visas to the Jews. Levine reports from his research of official Japanese foreign ministry documents entitled "Miscellaneous Documents Regarding Ethnic Issues: Jewish Affairs,' vol.10, 1940 Diplomatic Record Office, Japanese Foreign Ministry, Tokyo", that he discovered one list alone of "2,139 names, largely of Poles—both Jews and non-Jews—who received visas between July 9 and August 31, 1940...It is far from complete; many who received visas from Sugihara, including children, are not on it. By statistical extrapolation, we can estimate that he helped as many as ten thousand escape; those who actually survived are probably no more than half that number." Indeed, some Jews who received Sugihara visas failed to leave Lithuania in time, were later captured by the Germans who invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, and perished in the Holocaust.

The Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already opened to the public two documents concerning Sugihara's file: the first aforementioned document is a 5 February 1941 diplomatic note from Chiune Sugihara to Japan's then Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

 in which Sugihara stated he issued 1,500 out of 2,139 transit visas to Jews and Poles; however, since most of the 2,139 people were not Jewish, this would imply that most of the visas were given to Polish Jews instead. Levine then notes that another document from the same foreign office file "indicates an additional 3,448 visas were issued in Kovno for a total of 5,580 visas" which were likely given to Jews desperate to flee Lithuania for safety in Japan or Japanese occupied China. Moreover, there were also "some Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 in Vilna who were issuing Sugihara visas with seals that he had left behind and did not destroy, long after the Japanese diplomat had departed" which means that some Jews could have escaped Europe with forged visas issued under Sugihara's name.

Many refugees used their visas to travel across the Soviet Union to Vladivostok
Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 and then by boat to Kobe
Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

, Japan, where there was a Russian Jewish community. Tadeusz Romer
Tadeusz Romer
Tadeusz Romer was a Polish diplomat and politician.He was a personal secretary to Roman Dmowski in 1919. Later he joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Polish ambassador to Italy, Portugal, Japan and the Soviet Union...

, the Polish ambassador in Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, organised help for them. From August 1940 to November 1941, he had managed to get transit visas in Japan, asylum visas to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Burma, immigration certificates to the British Mandate of Palestine, and immigrant visas to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and some Latin American countries for more than two thousand Polish-Lithuanian Jewish refugees, who arrived into Kobe
Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

, Japan, and Shanghai Ghetto
Shanghai ghetto
The Shanghai ghetto, formally known as the , was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai, to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless...

, China.

The remaining number of Sugihara survivors stayed in Japan until they were deported to Japanese-held Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, where there was already a large Jewish community. Others took a more southerly route through Korea directly to Shanghai without passing through Japan. A group of thirty "Jakub Goldberg" arrived one day to Tsuruga but were returned to the Russian port city of Nakhodka
Nakhodka
Nakhodka is a port city in Primorsky Krai, Russia, situated on the Trudny Peninsula jutting into the Nakhodka Bay of the Sea of Japan, about east of Vladivostok...

. Most of the around 20,000 Jews survived the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 in the Shanghai ghetto
Shanghai ghetto
The Shanghai ghetto, formally known as the , was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai, to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless...

 until the Japanese surrender in 1945.

Despite German pressure for the Japanese government to either hand over or kill the Jewish refugees, the government protected the group. One hypothesis is that the Japanese decision was in gratitude for a $196 million loan that a Jewish banker from New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Jacob Schiff
Jacob Schiff
Jacob Henry Schiff, born Jakob Heinrich Schiff was a German-born Jewish American banker and philanthropist, who helped finance, among many other things, the Japanese military efforts against Tsarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.From his base on Wall Street, he was the foremost Jewish leader...

, had given to Japan; the funds helped them to victory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. A broader hypothesis, which also motivated the 1930s scheme, involved the benefit of the supposed economic prowess to Jews (partly as some Japanese leaders had read anti-Semitic
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 tracts attributing uncanny wealth and power to Jews), which was desirable to the Japanese empire. Finally, Jewish leaders pointed out that the Nazi ideal excluded "the yellow", and asserted that like the Japanese, the Jews were from Asia too.

Manchurian Foreign Office


When Sugihara served in the Manchurian Foreign Office, he took part in the negotiations with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 concerning the Northern Manchurian Railroad
China Far East Railway
The Chinese Eastern Railway or was a railway in northeastern China . It connected Chita and the Russian Far East. English-speakers have sometimes referred to this line as the Manchurian Railway...

. He quit his post as Deputy Foreign Minister in Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 in protest over Japanese mistreatment of the local Chinese. While in Harbin, he converted to Orthodox Christianity
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 as “Pavlo Sergeivich Sugihara” and married a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 woman named Klaudia Semionova Apollonova. They divorced in 1935, before he returned to Japan, where he married Yukiko Kikuchi, who became Yukiko Sugihara (1913–2008) (杉原幸子 Sugihara Yukiko) after the marriage; they had four sons (Hiroki, Chiaki, Haruki, Nobuki). Nobuki is their only son still alive. Chiune Sugihara also served in the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as a translator for the Japanese legation in Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

.

Resignation


Sugihara served as a Consul General in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, from March 1941 to late 1942 in Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

, East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 and in the legation in Bucharest, Romania from 1942 to 1944. When Soviet troops entered Romania, they imprisoned Sugihara and his family in a POW camp for eighteen months. They were released in 1946 and returned to Japan through the Soviet Union via the Trans-Siberian railroad and Nakhodka
Nakhodka
Nakhodka is a port city in Primorsky Krai, Russia, situated on the Trudny Peninsula jutting into the Nakhodka Bay of the Sea of Japan, about east of Vladivostok...

 port. In 1947, the Japanese foreign office asked him to resign, nominally due to downsizing. Some sources, including his wife Yukiko Sugihara, have said that the Foreign Ministry told Sugihara he was dismissed because of "that incident" in Lithuania.

In October 1991, the ministry told Sugihara's family that Sugihara's resignation was part of the ministry's shakeup in personnel shortly after the end of the war. The Foreign Ministry issued a position paper on 24 March 2006, that there was no evidence the Ministry imposed disciplinary action on Sugihara. The ministry said that Sugihara was one of many diplomats to resign voluntarily, but that it was "difficult to confirm" the details of his individual resignation. The ministry praised Sugihara's conduct in the report, calling it a "courageous and humanitarian decision."

Later life


Sugihara settled in Fujisawa
Fujisawa, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan. As of 2010, the city had an estimated population of 407,731 and a population density of 5,870 people per km². The total area is 69.51 km²-Geography:...

 in Kanagawa prefecture
Kanagawa Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the southern Kantō region of Japan. The capital is Yokohama. Kanagawa is part of the Greater Tokyo Area.-History:The prefecture has some archaeological sites going back to the Jōmon period...

. To support his family he took a series of menial jobs, at one point selling light bulbs door to door. He suffered a personal tragedy in 1947 when his youngest son died at the age of seven. He later began to work for an export company as General Manager of U.S. Military Post Exchange. Utilizing his command of the Russian language, Sugihara went on to work and live a low-key existence in the Soviet Union for sixteen years, while his family stayed in Japan.

In 1968, Jehoshua Nishri, an economic attaché to the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo and one of the Sugihara beneficiaries, finally located and contacted him. Nishri had been a Polish teen in the 1940s. The next year Sugihara visited Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and was greeted by the Israeli government. Sugihara beneficiaries began to lobby for his inclusion in the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 memorial.

In 1985, Chiune Sugihara was granted the honor of the Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("24586")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Transliteration">translit.
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

 Khasidei Umot ha-Olam) by the government of Israel. Sugihara was too ill to travel to Israel, so his wife and son accepted the honor on his behalf. Sugihara and his descendants were given perpetual Israeli citizenship.

That same year, 45 years after the Soviet invasion of Lithuania, he was asked his reasons for issuing visas to the Jews. Sugihara explained that the refugees were human beings, and that they simply needed help.
Inspired by “Lamentations, a book of the Old Testament, written by Jeremiah” which “suddenly came to [her] mind”, Yukiko Sugihara urged Chiune to issue visas to save Jewish refugees. When asked by Moshe Zupnik why he risked his career to save other people, he said simply : "I do it just because I have pity on the people. They want to get out so I let them have the visas."

Sugihara died the following year at a hospital in Kamakura
Kamakura, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, about south-south-west of Tokyo. It used to be also called .Although Kamakura proper is today rather small, it is often described in history books as a former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency during the...

, on 31 July 1986. In spite of the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, he remained virtually unknown in his home country. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, showed up at his funeral did his neighbors find out what he had done.

Legacy and honors


Sugihara Street in Kaunas and Vilnius, Lithuania, and the asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 25893 Sugihara
25893 Sugihara
25893 Sugihara is an asteroid discovered by William Kwong Yu Yeung at the Desert Beaver observatory. The asteroid was discovered November 19, 2000, and is named in honour of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who defied orders not to assist asylum-seekers fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe, and...

 are named after him. The Chiune Sugihara Memorial in the town of Yaotsu (his birthplace) was built by the people of the town in his honor. The Sugihara House Museum in Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. The Conservative synagogue Temple Emeth, in Chestnut Hill
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Chestnut Hill is a wealthy New England village located six miles west of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Like all Massachusetts villages, Chestnut Hill is not an incorporated municipal entity, but unlike most of them, it encompasses parts of three separate municipalities, each of...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, has built a "Sugihara Memorial Garden" and holds an Annual Sugihara Memorial Concert.

When Sugihara's widow Yukiko traveled to Jerusalem in 1998, she was met by tearful survivors who showed her the yellowing visas that her husband had signed. A park in Jerusalem is named for him. The Japanese government honored him on the centennial of his birth in 2000.

A memorial to Sugihara was built in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo in 2002, and dedicated with consuls from Japan, Israel and Lithuania, Los Angeles city officials and Sugihara's son, Chiaki Sugihara, in attendance. The memorial, entitled "Chiune Sugihara Memorial, Hero of the Holocaust" depicts a life-size Sugihara seated on a bench, holding a visa in his hand and is accompanied by a quote from the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

: "He who saves one life, saves the entire world."

He was posthumously awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta in 2007, and the Commander's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the President of Poland in 1996. Also, in 1993, the Life Saving Cross of Lithuania, posthumously.

Alias


Chiune Sugihara (杉原千畝 Sugihara Chiune) had told the refugees to call him “Sempo,” the sound reading of the Chinese character “千畝”, the former is much easier for Western people to pronounce. Sempo was not his middle name, as Japanese name
Japanese name
in modern times usually consist of a family name , followed by a given name. "Middle names" are not generally used.Japanese names are usually written in kanji, which are characters of usually Chinese origin in Japanese pronunciation...

s do not have middle names.

Biographies


  • A Japanese TV station in Japan made a documentary film about Chiune Sugihara. This film was shot in Kaunas, at the place of the former embassy of Japan.
  • Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness from PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

     shares details of Sugihara and his family and the fascinating relationship between the Jews and the Japanese in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • On 11 October 2005, Yomiuri TV (Osaka) aired a two-hour-long drama entitled Visas for Life about Sugihara, based on his wife's book.
  • Chris Tashima
    Chris Tashima
    Chris Tashima is a Japanese American actor and director. He is co-founder of the entertainment company Cedar Grove Productions and Artistic Director of its Asian American theatre company, Cedar Grove OnStage. He is the son of U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima...

     and Chris Donahue
    Chris Donahue
    Chris Donahue is an American film and television producer. He was born in Dallas, Texas, attended Jesuit College Preparatory, and currently resides in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America...

     made a film about Sugihara in 1997, Visas and Virtue
    Visas and Virtue
    Visas and Virtue is a 1997 narrative short film inspired by the true story of Holocaust rescuer Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara, who is known as "The Japanese Schindler"...

    , which won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film
    Academy Award for Live Action Short Film
    This name for the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film was introduced in 1974. For the three preceding years it was known as "Short Subjects, Live Action Films." The term "Short Subjects, Live Action Subjects" was used from 1957 until 1970. From 1936 until 1956 there were two separate...

    .
  • Japan's largest film company, Nippon Animation
    Nippon Animation
    is a Japanese animation studio. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, with chief offices in the Ginza district of Chūō and production facilities in Tama City....

    , is producing an animated film on Chiune Sugihara. The film was specially animated for television stations in Japan and around the world. The plan is to market the film in 2008, marking sixty years since diplomatic relations were established between Israel and Japan. The Japanese company asked Israel's ambassador to Japan, Eli Cohen, to help in making the film.

Notables helped by Sugihara

  • Leaders and students of the Mir Yeshiva
    Mir yeshiva (Poland)
    The Mir yeshiva , commonly known as the Mirrer Yeshiva or The Mir, was a Haredi yeshiva located in the town of Mir, Russian Empire...

    , Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim
    Tomchei Temimim
    Tomchei Temimim is the central Yeshiva of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement...

     (formally of Lubavitch/Lyubavichi
    Lyubavichi
    Lyubavichi is a rural locality in Rudnyansky District of Smolensk Oblast, Russia.-History:The village is known to have existed in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since at least 1654 . In 1784 mentioned as a small town , then a possession of the magnate Lubomirski family...

    , Russia) relocated to Otwock
    Otwock
    Otwock is a town in central Poland, some southeast of Warsaw, with 42,765 inhabitants . It is situated on the right bank of Vistula River below the mouth of Swider River. Otwock is home to a unique architectural style called Swidermajer....

    , Poland and elsewhere.
  • Zerach Warhaftig
    Zerach Warhaftig
    Rabbi Dr. Zerach Warhaftig was an Israeli lawyer and politician and a signatory of Israel's Declaration of Independence.-Background:Warhaftig was born in Volkovysk in the Russian Empire in 1906. His parents were Yerucham Warhaftig and Rivka Fainstein...

  • Robert Lewin
    Robert Lewin
    Robert Lewin was a Polish art dealer and philanthropist.-Biography:Born Boruch Lewin in Warsaw, Poland, Lewin was the son of a Polish-Jewish banker....

  • Leo Melamed
    Leo Melamed
    Leo Melamed is a former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange , current board member of CME Group and chairman of the CME Group Foundation. He is a longtime executive in the field of global derivatives....

  • John G. Stoessinger
    John G. Stoessinger
    John G. Stoessinger, Ph.D. , a prize winning author of ten leading books on world politics, has been the recipient of the distinguished Bancroft Prize for History for The Might of Nations, and has served as Acting Director for the Political Affairs Division at the United Nations. On the eve of...

    , professor of diplomacy at the University of San Diego
    University of San Diego
    The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic university in San Diego, California. USD offers more than sixty bachelor's, master’s, and doctoral programs...

  • George Zames
    George Zames
    George Zames was a control theorist and professor at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Zames is known for his fundamental contributions to the theory of robust control, and was credited for the development of various well-known results such as small-gain theorem, passivity theorem,...

    , control theorist
  • Yaakov Banai
    Yaakov Banai
    Yaakov Banai born Yaakov Tunkel, Alias Mazal served as the commander of the Lehi movement's combat unit...


See also

  • John Rabe
    John Rabe
    John Rabe was a German businessman who is best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking Occupation and his work to protect and help the Chinese civilians during the event...

  • Jan Zwartendijk
    Jan Zwartendijk
    Jan Zwartendijk was a Dutch businessman and diplomat who helped Jews escape Lithuania during World War II.Zwartendijk directed the Philips plants in Lithuania. On June 19, 1940, he was also a part-time an acting consul of the Netherlands - or, to be exact, of the Dutch government-in-exile...

  • Tatsuo Osako
    Tatsuo Osako
    Tatsuo Osako , of Chiba, Japan was a citizen of the Japanese Empire during World War II who is most notable for transporting Jews to safety. He was responsible for transporting over 2,000 Jews from German-occupied counties, and ship them safely elsewhere. He, along with his partner Chiune Sugihara,...

  • Varian Fry
    Varian Fry
    Varian Mackey Fry was an American journalist. Fry ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.-Early life:...

  • Oskar Schindler
    Oskar Schindler
    Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia. He is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively.He is the subject of the...

  • Giorgio Perlasca
    Giorgio Perlasca
    Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian who posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary in the winter of 1944, and saved thousands of Jews from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.-Early life:...

  • List of people who helped Jews during the Holocaust

External links