Children of Jewish refugee who fled Nazis thank Japan over visa issuance


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Japan was on the losing side of WWII for supporting Nazis Germany, occupying its neighbors, and attacking the US.

It shows how terrible the Japanese government including Abe's and Aso's families really were during that time, but the average Japanese person had no real interest in a world war or the Nazis plans.

Japan only had eyes on Asia.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

Silva* This is the celebration of those brave Japanese nationals that went against the orders of their own government and issued visas to Jews trying to flee Europe saving lives and leaving legacies. Heap your scorn somewhere else buddy. Not the time, nor the place.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

The Japanese government was opposed to the issuing of visas!

It was Mr Tatekawa that opposed his own government.

No need to thank the Japanese government at all....

19 ( +25 / -6 )

He was a great man and should be remembered. Not sure it is right to thank the current Japanese government which basically denies almost all refugee applications and keeps refugees locked up. In any case, maybe a new Tatekawa-san will emerge in this generation.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

It may have gone counter to policy to issue travel visas in Europe to Jews, but in Asia, it was official Japanese policy to defy the Nazi demands to exterminate the 40,000 Jews living in lands under their control. Unlike most allies to Nazi Germany, the Japanese and the Finns refused to participate in the Holocaust.

An anecdote, if I may: in 1944, the Hungarian government decided to cooperate with the Holocaust. The American President at the time, FDR, unlike today's president, was an unashamed anti-fascist, and opposed to the Holocaust. FDR warned the Hungarian people and government that if they decided to cooperate with the Germans in the extermination of Jews, then the American government would reverse its policy of not bombing population centers of European countries allied to Germany. When the Hungarian government made the decision to cooperate in the Holocaust, FDR made good on his promise to bomb Budapest, the Hungarian capital city.

It was on a raid to bomb Budapest that a friend of mine was shot down in his bomber, a B-24. Only three crew members made it out of the plane. Once on the ground they were taken prisoner by Hungarian civilians, who were in the process of lynching them when German soldiers showed up and took them prisoner instead. Fred spent the rest of the war as a POW of the German Luftwaffe.

I hope this story isn't too far afield. There are many stories from the war, and from the Holocaust, and most of them remain untold.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

One more Japanese hero of Mankind to be remembered. Another Japanese diplomat acted as Schindler, Mr Chiune Sugihara. Great Men, great souls. The true Japanese spirit.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

What has this got to do with the Japanese government? They were carrying out their own holocaust in China and the rest of East and Southeast Asia. As kurisupisu says, this was about a lone man who went against his own government.

2 ( +14 / -12 )

A nice article about someone who did a good thing during WWII. Anti-Semantic....LOL


While there were many casualties in China during WWII there was never a planned genocide as in the case of Nazi Germany. In fact back in the 2010 heated anti-Japan fervor, China accused Japan of a "holocaust" and the government of Israel raised an objection to China's use of the term.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

there was never a planned genocide

Was it perhaps unplanned like the Armenian genocide? To forget risks letting it happen again.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Aaron Kotler, a 56-year-old son of Rischel Kotler, told Yamanouchi that his mother would never have survived without the visa.

Why? They were Soviet citizens already safe in Moscow. The Soviet Union was not rounding up its Jewish citizens and deporting them to Auschwitz. The were requesting transit visas at the Japanese Embassy that would allow them to escape the USSR and eventually reach the US. It seems far more likely that the Kotlers, like many Soviet Jews at the time, were disillusioned and gave up on the Soviet project after Trotsky and others were purged by Stalin.

To compare this to the Chiune Sugihara situation (where people within the territories controlled by Nazi Germany were being saved) seems like a bit of a stretch.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Perhaps no holocaust but plenty of war atrocities: Unit 731 medical experimentation on POWs and civilians a la Dr. Mengele. Murder and torture of POWs. Institutionalized forced prostitution. The trend to whitewash history and encourage people to forget Japan's actions is alive and well. Japan allied with Nazi Germany. Doesn't get any worse than that.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Imperial Japan helping Jews escape and sending most of them to China does not excuse all the war crimes they also committed.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

Shanghai ghetto.

"From 1943, Jews in Shanghai shared a "Designated Area for Stateless Refugees" of 40 blocks along with 100,000 Chinese residents. Most Jews fared as well, often better than other Shanghai residents. The ghetto remained open and free of barbed wire and Jewish refugees could acquire passes to leave the zone. However it was bombed just months before the end of the war by Allied planes seeking to destroy a radio transmitter within the city, with the consequential loss of life to both Jews and Chinese in the ghetto."

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Is that the reason why after the war Japanese war crimes were not mentioned in history books and the bashing went to Hitler alone? Estimated death numbers are 10mio around Asia by Japanese forces... That would put Hitler and Stalin well behind... I always wondered why nothing was mentioned in my history books... Now I know. Thankx for clarification.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )


While there were many casualties in China during WWII there was never a planned genocide as in the case of Nazi Germany.

Oh, I beg your pardon. I guess we shouldn't mention the atrocities committed by Japan then. But, I have to say, for a group with absolutely no plans at all, Japan's Unit 731 sure was very efficient, both in setting up experiments, and then destroying evidence. What they did even sent shivers down the spines of some members of the Nazi party.


Is that the reason why after the war Japanese war crimes were not mentioned in history books and the bashing went to Hitler alone?

You might like to ask Ossan. His country made some dirty deals with the Japanese war criminals because they were so obsessed with trying to wipe out Mao and Stalin, they let the war criminals go free.......to go on to work for the government and in other high-paid positions. Oh, I'm sure that wasn't planned either. You only have to see who Ossan's dear president is to realize certain mentalities have never disappeared. His favourite person at the moment must be Tom Cotton who said slavery was a necessary evil - I guess slavery wasn't planned either.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

zichiToday  12:58 pm JST

Shanghai ghetto.

 14,000–15,000 Eastern European Jews were granted asylum in the Japanese quarter of Shanghai; the European quarters, in contrast, admitted almost no Jews. 1000 Polish refugees who had not been able to obtain visas for any country were also given asylum in Shanghai.

Approximately 24,000 Jews escaped the Holocaust either by immigrating through Japan or living under direct Japanese rule by the policies surrounding Japan's more pro-Jewish attitude.


1 ( +10 / -9 )


I don’t need another of your lectures. I’ve read up on it. You didn’t read my post,you just dive straight in has usual to find some justification. There are no justification for the many terrible war crimes committed by the IJA. The Jewish situation does not change that.

Jews and foreigners interned in Japan were treated more badly and given very poor rations.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )


No you haven't read up on it. If you did you'd know that Jews were not treated poorly in Japan.



4 ( +10 / -6 )


please refain from lecturing me, it’s boring. You have no idea what I have read and studied. All foreigners including Jews were treated poorly during their internment on mainland Japan. I have read accounts. The Jews in China received better treatment in the amount of food they got.

In Kobe For a while I had my studio in a building which had housed Jewish interns.

They received less rations than what was given to JIA troops. All foreigners were treated badly including POW's and Korean forced labor in the mines.

Your constant defense of what the JIA did during the war is shameful to all those who fought! Including my own family and community. At least be honest and not to seek to justify constantly.

With the Jews because they were treated better than in Nazi Germany does not remove the many terrible war crimes committed.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

The period of the Japanese Imperial military will forever remain their darkest in their history. The history needs to be taught correctly in the classrooms. No revisionism.

Since then, Japan over the past 70 years has changed for the better and without further wars.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

This article is about a Japanese diplomat who helped a Jewish man during a time when Jews were being persecuted and exterminated. The man's children are grateful and have thanked the Japanese government.

What does that have anything to do with what the Imperial Japanese military did or didn't do during WWII?

Your anti-Japan comments are irrelevant to the article, to the children who expressed gratitude, and the State of Israel. Maybe if you had Jewish family members as I do perhaps you could see straight.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Your anti-Japan comments are irrelevant to the article,

I don't have anti Japanese comments. That is a common comment made by you whaen we don't agree with you. I have lived here for 30 years, longer than you, who lives in America. That does not mean I accept what the Japanese Imperial Military did from about 1930 to 1945. Even my own Japanese family don't accept. FIL had to fight in China. None of my friends agree with that history.

I have many Jewish friends in the UK. I know people who were Jewish children and walked all the way from Austria to Britain to escape the Nazi. I knew some camp survivers too. I was born at the end of the war. I have seen personally the sufferings. Family and community in India, Burma, and Korea in the end, some POW's. I have seen what war does to people.

Yes the Japanese didn't put the Jews in death camps. But in some countries like in Malaysia they had to wear badges to show they were Jewish.

The Shanghai ghetto wasn't named by me, it was named by the Jews.

The JIM killed many tens of millions of people and saved less than 100,000 Jews. Which way does the scale balance?

You can't just take one slice of tiny history and refuse to accept the rest.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

@ 1glenn

FDR would have done better to bomb the railway tracks leading to the Nazi death camps instead of Budapest. If you read history more carefully, you will discover that Roosevelt was criticized for his failure to do so and, what is an even blacker mark on his role as president, he was excoriated by Jews for his refusal to allow Jewish people fleeing the Nazis into the USA. Because of FDR's callous immigration policy, thousands of Jews needlessly perished at the hands of their tormentors. No, to set the record straight, "anti-fascist" FDR is not regarded by many Jews with gratitude as their "savior".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"The Japanese government was opposed to the issuing of visas!

It was Mr Tatekawa that opposed his own government.

No need to thank the Japanese government at all...."

Ok then.

But the visa was issued under Japan, NOT in Tatekawa's personal name.

Japan could easily have revoked the visa, couldn't they?

Japan could also have revoked/invalidate every single visa issued by Sughiara.

The fact they didn't (both instances) speaks volumes.

People are too happy to bestow "magna cum laude" on Schindler's, conveniently "forgetting" he was nothing more/less than a profiteer, gambler and a womaniser of Jewish women (of which he pecked a few, by virtue of his position). Schindler's "repentance" came in at the end, when he knew Germany was done for.

Of course, Schindler saved a thousand or so; Sughiara saved many more.

Japan deserves to be recognised, for permitting the issuance of the visas to carry on, even if in contravention of Government orders.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

"Several middle-echelon Japanese military officers, the so-called "experts" on Jewish affairs, spread these ideas. In contrast to the Nazi goal of eliminating "all-powerful" Jewry, the Japanese idealogues took a much more logical and humanitarian approach: They would harness this "Jewish power" on behalf of Japan and its New Order in East Asia."


-8 ( +2 / -10 )

The history needs to be taught correctly in the classrooms.


Everybody praises Sugihara, but nobody mentions Higuchi Kiichiro, the man who convinced Tojo Hideki himself (the so-called “Hitler of Asia”) to save thousands of Jewish refugees by letting them enter Manchuria, even though it would make Germany very unhappy (they were trying to establish a concentration camp in Shanghai after all).

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Tatekawa, Chiune and all other selfless individuals, history will never forget you, neither will God of all love!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

We shouldn't forget to mention the noble Dutch businessman and diplomat with a conscience, Jan Zwartendijk, who issued over 2000 visas for Jews stranded in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, to make their escape to the Dutch West Indies. Not as familiar a name in Japan as Sugihara Chiune, but Yad Vashem has honored his name and memorialized his selfless role in serving his fellow men. Btw, when contemplating the righteous example set by these honorable men, an unsettling thought occurred to me occasioned by the crass example set by Trump: why oh why has he refused to pay his respects to John Lewis, whose body now lies in state in the Capitol? If only he could show some heart... I suppose we now know more thanks to Mary Trump who has tried to explain how he became so cold and unfeeling and why he cannot show any empathy for others. SAD!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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