COVID-19 INFORMATION What you need to know about the coronavirus if you are living in Japan or planning a visit.
politics

Abe hails Japanese Holocaust hero Sugihara

40 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2015 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

40 Comments
Login to comment

I had never heard of Mr. Sugihara until I come to Japan about 6 years ago. One day I was visiting the Wax Museum Exhibit up in Tokyo Tower and I stopped to read the biography on his figure. I said "OMG", how come this guy never received any credit in the history books for actually saving so many Jews? Japan may have been on the wrong side of history, but Sugihara's compassion made him a true hero for going against orders from his own country and also the Germans. Someone should contact Spielberg to make this movie. This story could be his next Schindler's List.

12 ( +13 / -2 )

It's nice to know that not every person working in the government at that time had been swirled up in propaganda. They really do need to at least mention him more often in the history books around the world.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Shalom Abe-san.

Bring peace to the world.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Sugihara was forced to resign after the war. Although the circumstances were murky, this is what his wife said, because of what he did in Lithuania. Sugihara was also a prisoner of the Soviets. He is a genuine hero.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

from wikipedia:

Chiune Sugihara (杉原 千畝 Sugihara Chiune?, 1 January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Poland and residents of Lithuania. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives. Sugihara had told the refugees to call him "Sempo", the Sino-Japanese reading of the characters in his first name, discovering it was much easier for Western people to pronounce.[1] In 1985, Israel named him to the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions, the only Japanese national to be so honored.

Damn. I never heard of this guy before. remarkable unsung hero.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I had never heard about him before, I just read about his life and it's amazing. He saved more than 6,000 jews. He deserves to be more known in the West. If you speak about Schindler, who saved around 1,100 jews, you should have some words also for this man, who saved even more lives. This shows some bias in western hystory books, we have to admit it.

4 ( +5 / -2 )

You people haven't heard of Sugihara before?... damn those history books that try to change and hide the facts. We should make an international movement to let know and demand that the history books everywhere clearly mentioned and put special emphases regarding what Mr. Sugihara did during the WWII, specially demand it to Israel to change and revise its history books....

...now... see how stupid, arrogant and single-minded and even disrespectful that allegation sounds?... same thing with what we (Japan) has to go on and on every now and then from our dear neighboring countries.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Abe reminds me of the part John Travolta played in 'Face off'. Misdirection is the key! Houdini could make an elephant disappear by misdirecting the audience's attention. Abe can make the truth disappear by misdirecting people's attention. He is a true magician!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sugihara's inspirational story has been around for some time now. He was a man not of his generation.

One of the unfortunate aspects of his life story was that he was literally abandoned by the Japanese govt after the war.

On return from Russian internment camps his position with the foreign ministry was cut (his wife & others said because he disobeyed orders in giving visas) and he was thrown into the dog-heap of post war destitution. He struggled for years and in order to make ends meet, he spent much of the last 20 years of his life living in Soviet Russia working for a trading company. He certainly was no hero in Japan.

Only after his death did any semblance of recognition by the Japanese govt come his way. And only because of the embarrassment caused by all the fuss made over him by the foreign media, govt. and institutions, esp those connected to the holocaust.

Now Mr Abe likes to quote his name. mmmm!

10 ( +13 / -4 )

Sugihara is indeed a hero for what he did.

But while Abe is happy to hail the noble things done by Japan, he refuses to accept the darker side of Japan's WWII legacy. This story is just another example of Abe's hypocrisy.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Chiune Sugihara saved 6000 jews. A lieutenant general of the Imperial Japanese Army Kiichiro Higuchi saved 20000 jews. Nazi protested to Higuchi's boss, Hideki Tojo, against Higuchi's act. But Tojo rejected Nazi's protest.

http://blog.goo.ne.jp/kimama08/e/936f0c897a59c533954c91605e0404ca

Sugihara was fired not because his act but because his rank as officer. He was not elite bureaucrat but rank-and-file bureaucrat. In those days, Japanese government fired a lot of rank-and-file bureaucrats because of financial deficit.

Sugihara worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan until 1947 without penalty. The Ministry remarked formally that Sugihara was not fired because of his good deed.

http://blog.guts-kaneko.com/2007/05/post_261.php

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I remember not long after the movie Schindler's List came out in 1993 Sugihara's name was suddenly in the newspapers as Japan's Schindler. So, that was the first time I had heard of him.

According to Wikipedia: "In 1947, the Japanese foreign office asked him to resign, nominally due to downsizing. Some sources, including his wife Yukiko Sugihara, have said that the Foreign Ministry told Sugihara he was dismissed because of "that incident" in Lithuania."

"Sugihara died ... at a hospital in Kamakura, on 31 July 1986. In spite of the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, he remained virtually unknown in his home country. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, showed up at his funeral, did his neighbors find out what he had done. He may have lost his diplomatic career but he received much posthumous acclaim.

"

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Maybe they could hail John Rabe, the Nazi hero of the Nanking massacre at the same time. He established a safe zone where Chinese citizens could take refuge - and saved thousands of lives. It cuts both ways Japan

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Maybe they could hail John Rabe, the Nazi hero of the Nanking massacre at the same time. He established a safe zone where Chinese citizens could take refuge - and saved thousands of lives.

There's a Hollywood movie about him, like for Schindler.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I've heard about this hero. He's like a Japanese Oskar Schindler. In the beginning he was doing official documentation on passports and such. At the end, he was staying up all night and signing notes on scraps of paper. His name was all the immigrations folks needed to see.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There's a Hollywood movie about him, like for Schindler.

Not Hollywood, a German/French/Chinese movie. I corrected myself.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

John Rabe saved about 250,000 Chinese. I think he comes out trumps in the humanitarian business, Mr Abe

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Christopher GlenApr. 28, 2015 - 05:47PM JST

Maybe they could hail John Rabe, the Nazi hero of the Nanking massacre at the same time.

That was because China was a Nazi ally at that time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-German_cooperation_until_1941

John Rabe saved about 250,000 Chinese. I think he comes out trumps in the humanitarian business, Mr Abe

That was because Japanese Army did not shell the Safty Zone on condition that the Safty Zone was open only for civilians. Killing of civilians was prohibited anyway. However, as it turned out, the Safty Zone became a hiding place for thousands of un-surrendering Chinese soldiers in plain clothes, who stared arson, looting and raping Chinese civilians. Here is a New York Times artile at that time.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9903E0DF113EE03ABC4C53DFB7668383629EDE

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The story of Sugihara should be known and told ... by anyone other than Abe and his revisionist / neo-fascist ilk. Quite frankly Abe and the LDP have much more in common with the government of that time than the heroes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Christopher GlenApr. 28, 2015 - 05:47PM JST Maybe they could hail John Rabe, the Nazi hero of the Nanking massacre at the same time. He established a safe >zone where Chinese citizens could take refuge - and saved thousands of lives

John Rabe was a Nazi. Try and tie that into this article.

. It cuts both ways Japan.

This isn't about Japan". It's about an indivudual who did the rigt thing against orders.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@Glenn,

I was thinking the same thing about Rabe; he is rarely mentioned. According to what I have read, he saved many a soul from the brutality of that massacre.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

After the war the Japanese government treated Sugihara like dirt. He ended up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

thats great but where are the japanese if any who helped asians survive?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

OssanAmerica: "This isn't about Japan". It's about an indivudual who did the rigt thing against orders."

Correction. It's about a hypocrite praising an individual who did the right thing against orders. There is absolutely no doubt that Sugihara is a hero, but let's see Abe go to a memorial for Nanjing or sex slaves and then say "never again" and that he has a "solemn feeling", and then he might not be such a bigot.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

After the war the Japanese government treated Sugihara like dirt. He ended up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

@Kabukilover

According to Wikipedia, it was light bulbs (not vacuum cleaners, but same drift).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Interesting read as I had never heard of Sugihara. A real hero!

http://remember.org/imagine/sugihara

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This isn't about Japan". It's about an indivudual who did the rigt thing against orders.

Do you think Hitler ordered Rabe to set up a safe zone? If Abe is going to praise Sugihara, he should also praise Rabe. Better to look at the "log in his own eye" first

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As heroic as Sagihara was, I smell a rat here that only Abe and his out-of-touch advisors are capable of delivering. Knowing that there would be criticism of Japanese war crimes during his 1 week outside the media-friendly confines of Japan, they put on this big show to show the good deeds of one of their former statesmen.

(meanwhile ignoring the fact that Sagihara was actually punished for his actions)

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Light bulbs. I stand corrected. Abe's progenitors certainly did not treat the man as a hero. What a miserable hypocritical twerp Abe is. He should have said something about Japan's official treatment of Sagihara.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sagihara is not very much known among japanese people, there is no statue for him and kids don't learn about him in school. But the same is true for the german Oscar Schindler in Germany. But Abe choosed the wrong place to visit, he should rather been to the Bataan Memorial Museum, but who am I kidding.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It would be a more convincing display of his "sincerity if Abe were to meet with some survivors of Japanese "Death Camps" instead of Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust for which the Japanese government was not responsible. Abe's sudden studied interest in Sugihara arouses suspicions about his motivation: could he be attempting to score morality points at the expense of Japan's former wartime ally Germany while deflecting attention away from those unresolved issues that ARE still the responsibility of the Japanese to address?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Great about Sugihara, but Abe has no moral high ground to be invoking him. This is sleight of hand, plain and simple, and clumsy at that.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A lieutenant general of the Imperial Japanese Army Kiichiro Higuchi saved 20000 Jews.

Like Mr Sugihara, Lietenant General Kiichiro Higuchi should also receive more publicity for having saved the lives of so many people. In 1938, he allowed approximately 20,000 Jewish refugees, who had fled Nazi Germany, to cross the border from the Soviet Union to Manchukuo. Hideki Tojo, the Chief of staff of the Kwantung Army and Higuchi's superior at the time, was asked to reprimand him for doing so, but reportedly said "it's the right thing to do from a humanitarian point of view." The Jews he saved eventually settled in the US, Canada and Palestine After the war, the Soviet Union charged him with war crimes, but General MacArthur prevented his extradition. His heroic deed is recorded in the Golden Book of Israel.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives.

That's because Japan was an ally and close friend of of Hitler and Nazi Germany. He would have been punished by Japan if he was caught helping the Jewish victims. Something that Abe conveniently forgot to mention, in his enthusiasm to brag about the man Japan punished after the war.

So where are all the Japanese who helped Asian victims of Japanese military? Are there any?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The irony of it all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sugiura is truly a hero who ended up being punished by Imperial Japan for going against them anf saving lives. Let us remember him along with Schindler and others.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Two interesting related aspects to Sugihara's story:

First, he was not murdered or imprisoned for his rebellion. To be sure, he became a persona non grata, but he was allowed back into Japan, and even pursued a new career. His punishment was, in effect, ostracism.

Second, considering the first, where were all the other potential Sugiharas....? Just as, where were all the emmigres?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Other Sugiharas? Maybe, but they failed, were eradicated before achieving anything, caught, punished and forgotten, labelled as traitors(?). The mind-control in Japan was more complete than in Germany..... The German Resistance? Yes, the White Rose. The Japanese resistance? Don't know, but there is something relating to them in Osamu Tezuka's Adolf ni Tsugu (アドルフに告ぐ) as well as the atrocities in Manchuria. Also: Keiji Nakazawa's father was imprisoned for being in an anti-war theatre group in Hiroshima. Keiji Nakazawa was the author of Barefoot Gen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is it possible to stop distorting facts just for the sake of vindicating your hatred of Abe Shinzo and , for that matter, of many Japanese people whom you just do not understand? Sugihara was not "punished by imperial Japan" as written above, he was dismissed, for economic reasons, by postwar Japan. For all its horrendous crimes against Asian people and allied POW's , imperial Japan has never shown the slightest inclination towards antisemitism, contrary to Hitler's other big ally, fascist Italy. Tojo, then chief of staff of the Kwantung army, took sides with his subordinate who was guilty of having smuggled 20000 Jewish refugees into Mandchukuo. General Higuchi would have been given a - mostly formal- rebuke for his action in about any country on this planet, even though what he did was highly commendable. It is time that you, Americans, understand that you (that is, Gal McArthur), by having whitewashed the main criminal, the principal responsible of the innumerable crimes of his army, are yourself (that is, Gal MacArthur) the main responsible for the confusion which has prevailed ever since in the minds of many Japanese people. For if the semi god who was blindly obeyed by everyone from the prime minister to the last private was not guilty then, who was ?? At the beginning of his trial, Tojo was asked to retract from a statement he had made to the effect that nobody would have dared disobey the emperor. He did so and that only won him the gallows, though he probably wilfully accepted the opportunity he was given to save his master. However, this sparing of Hiro Hito was one of the most stupid moves of the postwar American policy in Japan. By using a blend of tradition and religion, the propaganda had fooled people into thinking that the emperor 'was' Japan. So three things were to be done. Explaining that this miserable guy 'was' not the Japanese people which on the contrary, had been cheated by him, displaying, in a honest and thorough trial, all the crimes which were committed in his name and in the end, hanging him or shutting him away until he died. Instead of that, he was offered a lifetime golden job. Hence Japanese of those times could not consider themselves as responsible . But then, asking the people of today to 'apologize' does not make any sense. Abe was born almost ten years after the end of the war. It is normal for him to want an 'utsukushii nihon' . If he keeps the words of Murayama and Kondo, that's good enough. He doesn't have to issue "his own apologies", only to see that things are taught as they happened to future generations.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thank you for the minor correction. In any case he was not treated well by his own people even for his heroic acts. Most were following the status quo in Imperial Japan with many even committing attrocities in the name of "doing good."He is a hero today and the point is that he suffered for it later. Also he went against his own government at the time, not "with their blessing." I have hear some credit the government of Japan what he did at that time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites