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Community to Honor Story of Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara Photo from Wikipedia

On Sunday, April 9, the legacy of Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, “Conspiracy of Kindness: You’ve Given Me Life,” will be presented at 2:00 p.m. at the Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, in Seattle, Washington. This is the second of three events in the series “The Holocaust and Japanese American Connections.”

In 1939, Chiune Sugihara, aka the “Japanese Schindler,” was assigned to head the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania. During the summer of 1940, thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi annihilation in Poland came to the Japanese Consulate seeking visas to help them escape.   

Defying policy procedures of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and risking his life and career, Sugihara wrote over 2,000 transit visas, saving more than 6,000 lives during the Holocaust. In 1985, Sugihara was the first Asian recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. This is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

Alton Takiyama-Chung, international storyteller, will give a presentation depicting the story of Chiune Sugihara’s heroic effort. Takiyama-Chung’s dramatic monologues have been described as riveting, poignant, nostalgic, and gripping. A post-performance panel will feature Alton Takiyama-Chung, Lori Tsugawa Whaley, Ken Mochizuki, and Dee Simon discussing the life and career of Chiune Sugihara. A reception will follow the presentation and panel discussion.

The third program, “Japanese American Soldiers and the Liberation of Dachau,” will be held at the NVC Memorial Hall on April 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

The 21 Nikkei Community Network organizations are also sponsoring a farewell reception of Consul-General Masahiro Omura this Sunday after the event.

“Consul General Omura has been a great friend to our community and it would be great to have a large attendance at his farewell,” according to the event host.