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Sugihara Chiune – A Japanese Holocaust Rescuer August 23, 2008

Posted by TAMAGAWABOAT in Blogroll, History, Japan, SUGIHARA Chiune, WW2.
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“Do you remember this?” One day in August 1968, the event happened unexpectedly. A gentleman came over to Sugihara ‘Sempo’ Chiune suddenly. Showing Sugihara one tattered piece of paper, this gentleman asked him, “Do you remember this, Mr. Sugihara?” The piece of paper was the transit visa that Sugihara issued in Kaunas, Lithuania 28 years ago.

28 years ago, in the summer of 1940, Sugihara Chiune was serving as Japanese consul in Lithuania. At that time, many Jewish people fled from Poland where had been occupied by Nazi Germany were crowding into Lithuania. Jewish refugees were trying desperately to get visa at foreign embassies or consulates in Lithuania. However, the Soviet Union, which adopted anti-Semitic policy (anti-Semitic=anti-Jewish) annexed Lithuania as a part of the Soviet Union, requested countries to close foreign embassies or consulates in Lithuania. The last foreign consulate left in Lithuania was the Japanese consulate. So, many Jewish people who sought visa for the purpose of escaping to another country crowded into the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. At first, although Japanese government was repeatedly requested to cooperate in anti-Semitic policy by Nazi Germany, Japanese government took a neutral position in an official manner. However, Japanese Foreign Ministry kept tough visa requirements.

On July 18th in 1940, Sugihara Chiune cabled Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo as to the approval of emergency visa. However, Tokyo replied the next day and told Sugihara to keep visa requirements. Sugihara cabled Tokyo several times. But Tokyo repeated the same response. A week later, on July 25th, Sugihara decided on his own accord and started giving Jewish refugees transit visa for humanitarian reasons. Sugihara Chiune kept writing transit visa in a little more than a month between July 25th and September 5th, though Sugihara received the expulsion order from the Soviet Union epeatedly. The number of transit visa that Sugihara gave Jewish refugees was 2,139. But this number 2,139 is just the number of visa that Sugihara numbered and recorded. Sugihara stopped numbering visa for laborsaving as the Japanese consulate closing day neared. Sugihara kept writing visa in the station until immediately before the train departure. So, the total number of visa that Sugihara gave Jewish refugees in a little more than a month is supposed to have reached more than twice the number 2,139.

On September 5th in 1940, Sugihara Chiune and his family was in the station to board a train for Berlin. Jewish refugees who had known that Sugihara would go on board a train on the day gathered at the station. Sugihara wrote visa on the platform. After he and his family went on board, Jewish refugees hanged on the windows of the train. Sugihara wrote visa from the window of the train. When the train started moving, he couldn’t write visa any more. Everybody was waving their hands. One of them called out, “Thank you, Mr.Sugihara. We will come to see you again.” And he came running after the train.

After that, Sugihara and his family lived several cities (Prague, Kaliningrad and etc.) in Easten Europe and they lived in Bucharest, Romania when World War II ended in 1945. Sugihara and his family were detained by the Soviet military that invaded Bucharest then and they were sent to prison camp (Ghencea, Romania). It was April in 1947 that Sugihara and his family returned to Japan. But Japanese Foreign Ministry didn’t welcome Sugihara and persuaded him into his resignation because of Ministry’s downsizing. Sugihara changed jobs frequently after resigning from Japanese Foreign Ministry.

“Do you remember this?” One day in August 1968, the event happened unexpectedly. A gentleman came over to Sugihara Chiune suddenly. Showing Sugihara one tattered piece of paper, this gentleman asked him, “Do you remember this, Mr. Sugihara?” The piece of paper was the transit visa that Sugihara issued in Kaunas, Lithuania 28 years ago. “At last, I found you, Mr. Sugihara. We still can’t forget you.” This gentleman’s name is B.Gehashra Nishri. B.Gehashra Nishri was the counsellor for Israeli embassy in Japan. B.Gehashra Nishri had been looking for Sugihara Chiune since that station. That station was Kaunas’ station in Lithuania.

In 1985, Sugihara ‘Sempo’ Chiune was given the title of “the Righteous Among the Nations” for his contribution to rescue more than 6,000 Jewish from Holocaust by the government of Israel.

Sugihara Chiune (January 1, 1900 – July 31, 1986)

[Historical Backdrop]

On December 6th, 1939, the Japanese Government decided the outline of actions for the Jewish people and officially announced it.
1) The Japanese government will continue to treat the Jewish living in Japan the same as other foreign residents in Japan and will not deport them from Japan.
2) Regarding Jewish who newly tries to enter Japan, the Japanese government will continue to take an appropriate response under the existing immigration control law.
3) The Japanese government will not positively invite the Jewish. But it is possible that the Japanese government will invite capable Jewish as a special case.

Japan is the world’s first country that advocated the elimination of racism in the international community.  After the First World War, when the League of Nations was established at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Japan proposed to include the provision of racial equality to the League of Nations Covenant.  Japan’s proposal was supported by a large majority from participating nations. However, Thomas Woodrow Wilson (the 28th President of the United States) who was presiding at Paris Peace Conference rejected this Japan’s proposal merely because this proposal couldn’t have gotten unanimous agreement.

「これを憶えてますか?」 1968年の夏のある日、その出来事は予期せず起こった。一人の紳士が杉原千畝の家を突然、訪ねた。その紳士は、ボロボロになった一枚の紙を杉原に見せながら訊ねた。「これを憶えてますか?杉原さん」 その紙は、28年前に杉原がリトアニア・カウナスで発給したビザだった。



1940年9月5日、杉原千畝と彼の家族はベルリン行きの列車の乗るため駅にいた。その日に杉原が列車に乗ると知っっていたユダヤ難民たちは駅に集まった。杉原は駅のプロットホームでビザを書いた。彼と彼の家族が列車に乗り込むと、ユダヤ難民たちは列車の窓にしがみついた。杉原は窓越しにビザを書いた。列車が動き始めたとき、もはやこれ以上、書くことができなかった。みんなが手を振っていた。その中のひとりが叫んだ。「ありがとう、杉原さん。今度、逢いに行きます!」 彼は列車を追って走ってきた。


「これを憶えてますか?」1968年の夏のある日、その出来事は予期せず起こった。一人の紳士が杉原千畝の家を突然、訪ねた。その紳士は、ボロボロになった一枚の紙を杉原に見せながら訊ねた。「これを憶えてますか?杉原さん」 その紙は、28年前に杉原がリトアニア・カウナスで発給したビザだった。「とうとう、あなたを見つけましたよ、杉原さん。私たちはいまでもあなたを忘れることができません」 この紳士の名前はゲハシュラ・二シュリ。ゲハシュラ・二シュリは駐日イスラエル大使館の補佐官であった。ゲハシュラ・二シュリは、あの駅からずっと杉原千畝を探し続けてきたのだった。あの駅とは、リトアニアのカウナスの駅のことである。






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なぜ日本人は英語が苦手なのか? August 11, 2008

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