Japan Prime Minister Abe Honors ‘Japanese Schindler’ Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the former Japanese consulate in Lithuania on Sunday to commemorate a Japanese diplomat credited with saving an estimated 6,000 Jews from almost certain death in 1940.

Chiune Sugihara was serving as Japanese consul in Kaunas, then capital of Lithuania, when he disobeyed his superiors and issued Japanese visas to Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland despite his country being a close ally of Nazi Germany.

Abe’s visit to Lithuania, the first by a Japanese prime minister, comes as Japan seeks greater cooperation with countries such as China, a former adversary in World War Two, in the face of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“The courageous and humanitarian action of Mr. Sugihara provides us with guidance as to how to we should survive in this world, where rule-of-law-based international order is being challenged in various forms,” Abe told reporters on Saturday.

Sugihara was named as “Righteous among the Nations” by Israel’s Yad Vashem museum among some 22,000 people honored for helping Jews avoid death in the Nazi Holocaust.

He issued thousands of Japanese transit visas to Jewish refugees in July and August 1940, opening a route for them to escape through Russia to Japan. His diplomatic career was cut short after the war and his actions remained largely unknown in Japan for decades after the conflict ended.

Most of Lithuania’s Jewish population — about 200,000 people — were shot dead in the first few months after Nazi Germany occupied its territory in June 1941, ending centuries of the thriving culture.

 by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff



  1. Considering Japanese atrocities in Korea, China, and to POW’s, I hope Abe will be guided by the Sadiq Sugihara to achieve real reconcilation with them also. When a whole people follow its leaders in der Erd, it’s incredible how a few individuals can keep their nitz qadosh. Where else could his motivation and action originate? v’yayshvu ysharim es panekha.

  2. As a youngster my classmates and I developed a pen-pal relationship with him. Our rebbi, a survivor who spent the war years in SchengChai, as he called it, got us started. That was back in 1971. He was a most enlightening individual.

    • Avraham Kotsuji was a Japanese professor who was instrumental in the protection of the Yidden who arrived in Japan. He later became a Ger tzedek. Is that who you mean?


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