Sugihara Chiune (Senpo) – Japanese Schindler


(Sugihara in his office in Lithuania)

 Sugihara Chiune ( was the Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania during the WWII. He had spent a colorful life even up until then, but one action he chose to take as a human being, not as a diplomat, made him an international hero as well as a legendary Japanese hero – He wrote more than 6,000 visas “by hand” for Jewish refugees when he was on duty as the Vice-Consul at Lithuania. He took this action totally against the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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(You can see his signature in Japanese!)

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(“Sugihara made the decision as a human being”)

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(Sugihara Memorial Hall in Japan)

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(Statue of Sugihara in his Memorial Hall) 

 He himself and his family were on the verge of danger from Nazis. Still he devoted himself to sign in those refugees’ passports – as many as 6,000 passports until the last minute of his departure from Kaunas, Lithuania, with his family. What do you think was waiting when he got back to Japan?

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 (Sugihara and his family)

 Sugihara was fired because he signed as many visas as possible with his might and main before leaving Lithuania AGAINST THE OFFICIAL ORDER OF HIS COUNTRY. His vicious colleagues made fun of him, saying, “How much did you earn from those refugees by signing?” Everyone was his enemy. Sugihara had to take the whole responsibility for his action – “BRAVERY.” The elite diplomat ended up taking odd jobs to support his family with his admirable ability of languages. His younger son, who was born in Lithuania, died of a disease after they were back in Japan, this gave him and his wife an additional excruciating pain. You can easily imagine how much he wanted to curse his life like “There exists no God in this world!”

 Now a days, he has been getting more than abundant respect from the people he helped and from their offsprings. All of them say they cannot thank him enough. True. Without his signature, they would have been arrested and ended up in gas chambers! In Japan, people started to raise their voice to retrieve Sugihara’s dignity by recognizing what he did for people as a person.

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(Discussion in Class)

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(Several Books on Sugihara including this copy)

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 Beaurocracy killed one talented and compassionate diplomat, but his admirable deed has been passed down from generation to generation all over the world! After all, who won!?

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