Several Jewish groups paid tribute to the late Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara on Friday, the 34th anniversary of his death.
Sugihara ‐‐ who was serving as Japan’s vice consul in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas when World War II broke out ‐‐ is credited with saving thousands of European Jews from the Nazis by ‐‐ in defiance of Tokyo’s instructions ‐‐ issuing them transit visas that enabled them to escape eastward.
His life story was detailed by The Algemeiner three years ago.
Sugihara was forced to resign from the Japanese Foreign Ministry shortly after the war, and he lived in obscurity for the next two decades.
In 1968, however, he was located by an Israeli diplomat based in Tokyo who, as a teenager, had received one of the visas. Sugihara visited the Jewish state the next year, and a lobbying campaign began to have him recognized by Yad Vashem.
This effort bore fruit in 1984, when Sugihara was granted the “Righteous Among the Nations” title.
Sugihara passed away less than two years later, at the age of 86.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said on Friday, “Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat, saved thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust by providing visas to those fleeing Nazism.”
“Today, on the anniversary of his passing, we honor his memory,” it added. “The righteous among the nations will never be forgotten.”
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) published a video highlighting Sugihara’s deeds.
During the Holocaust, Japanese diplomat in Lithuania Chiune Sugihara single-handedly saved thousands of Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazis by issuing them travel visas – against official orders. He passed away #onthisday in 1986. pic.twitter.com/McPDungAgE
— WJC (@WorldJewishCong) July 30, 2020