Chiune Sugihara, Oriental Schindler

Even the value of virtue changes through the ages. It was the virtue of the Japanese to die for their motherland in World War II. Japanese virtue changed after losing the war. The state and government, which seemed unchallengeable, disappeared. Individuals have become equal or more important than the country. Although virtue changes, there is still virtue that does not change. It is a human act based on love. Love people across the borders of race or country.

He was a diplomat. He is also popularly known as “Sempo Sugihara” from the sound of his first name. He attended Waseda University, majoring in English literature. During his college days, Sugihara passed an exam to be a scholarship exchange student of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs hired him and posted him in Harbin, China. There, Sembo learned Russian and German. He became an expert on Russian affairs.

Sempo was appointed Vice-Council of the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania in 1939. In 1940, Lithuania was taken over by the Soviet Union. Thousands of Jews poured into Lithuania from Poland. The Jewish people of Lithuania were also seeking to get out of those countries. The Soviet Union requested the closure of consulates of other countries in Lithuania. The Japanese consulate, however, remains open. Jewish refugees rushed to the Japanese consulate to obtain a transit visa to exit those countries.

Sempo requested that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issue transit visas for Jewish refugees, but he could not obtain permission. Sempo decided to ignore the approval of the Japanese government and began issuing his own handwritten visas on July 31, 1940. He saw that these refugees were in danger if they remained there. Continue issuing transit visas through Japan to their destination. Not only did he ignore his governmental authority, but he also violated the legal requirement to issue visas only to persons eligible for adequate funding. It issued visas to ineligible refugees until September 4, 1940.

Spent 18-20 hours issuing visas per day. He spoke with the Russian authorities and arranged for the Jewish refugees to be able to board the Trans-Siberian Train during their travels. September 4, 1940 was the day Sempo needed to return to Japan. The night before he was gone, he stayed up all night and continued writing visas, according to a witness. He gave blank visas with the stamp of the Japanese consulate and his signature at the train window. Only the unofficial record is available of how many refugees Sembu Sugihara rescued. They will be between 6,000 and 10,000. Since visas are issued to couples who can accompany his family, the people who can leave Lithuania will be more than the record.

His wife later remembered him and commented that he was just an honest person. It’s a profound statement. He never gave up being true to himself. He did what he believed to be right. His heroic story should not be buried in history because Japan lost World War II.

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