Sempo (Chiune) Sugihara 1900-1986
|Sempo Sugihara was the Japanese consul in Kovno,
Lithuania. Against his government's orders, Sugihara issued 6000 Jews with
Japanese visas, within a period of 19 days. These visas allowed the refugees
to enter Japan, from whence they continued on to Shanghai and later to
Canada, Australia or South America. Sugihara's actions saved about 10,000
Jews in total.
Sugihara was a great humanitarian who risked demotion or worse for his actions. He had never seen Jews before, but he kept in mind at all times the Samurai maxim that "even a hunter cannot kill a bird that flies to him for refuge". Even at the train station on his way to Berlin in 1940, he was stamping papers for a crowd of desperate Jews. In 1945 Sempo Sugihara was dismissed from the Japanese Foreign Ministry. However, his courage was recognized posthumously when Japan apologized for this dismissal and applauded his deeds. He was also honored as Japan's first Righteous Among the Nations. When asked what reward he would choose, Sugihara chose to have his son educated in Israel.
From the Jewish Virtual Library