May 29, 2024


Education is everything you need

Chiune Sugihara, Oriental Schindler

Even the value of virtue changes in ages. Japanese virtue was to die for their mother country in World War II. Japanese virtue changed after it lost the war. Country and government, which seemed to be unchallengeable, were gone. Individual people became equally or more important than the country. Though the virtue changes, there is a virtue, which did not change. It is humanitarian action based on love. Love to people across the ethnicity or country borders.

He was a diplomat. He is also famous as “Sempo Sugihara” from the sound of his first name. He entered into Waseda University majoring English literature. During his college days, Sugihara passed an examination to be a Foreign Ministry Scholarship Exchange Student. Japanese Foreign Ministry hired him and assigned him in Harbin, in China. Sempo learned Russian and German languages there. He became an expert of Russian Affairs.

Sempo was appointed to be vice council of Japanese Consulate of Lithuania in 1939. In 1940, Soviet Union took over Lithuania. Thousands of Jews poured into Lithuania from Poland. Jewish people in Lithuania were also seeking for exiting from those countries. Soviet Union requested consulates of other countries closed in Lithuania. Japanese Consulate, however, was still open. Jewish refugees rushed into Japanese Consulate for transit visa for exiting from those countries.

Sempo requested to issue transit visas to Jewish refugees to Japanese Foreign Ministry, but he could not get permission. Sempo decided to ignore Japanese Government approval and started to issue his own hand written visas in July 31, 1940. He saws those refugees were in danger if they stayed behind. He continued to issue visas to transit through Japan for their destination. He not only ignored his government authority, but also violated legal requirements to issue visas only to people with qualification of enough fund. He issued visas to unqualified refugees until September 4, 1940.

He spent 18 – 20 hours issuing visas a day. He talked with Russian authority and arranged Jewish refugees could take Trans-Siberian Train for their traveling. September 4, 1940 was the day when Sempo needed to leave back to Japan. The night before his departure, he stayed up awake all-night and continued to write visas, according to a witness. He gave out blank visas with Japanese Consulate Seal and his signature from the window of the train. Only unofficial record is available to learn the number of refugees whom Sempo Sugihara saved. They would be between 6,000 and 10,000. Since the visas were issued to husbands who could accompany his family, the people who could depart from Lithuania would be more than the record.

His wife later remembered him and commented about him that he was just an honest person. It is a profound statement. He did not give up to be honest to himself. He did what he believed right. His heroic story should not be buried in the history because Japan lost World War II.