Sugihara, Chiune

Sugihara, Chiune, 1900–1986, Japanese diplomat who saved several thousand European Jews during World War II. He served (1920–22) in the army, then joined the Japanese foreign ministry. In 1939 he was sent to Kaunas, Lithuania, to establish a consulate and gather intelligence on Soviet and German activities. In July–Aug., 1940, Sugihara disregarded orders from the Japanese foreign ministry and issued thousands of transit visas to Polish Jews who had sought refuge in Lithuania, allowing them to pass through the Soviet Union to Kobe, Japan, from where they traveled to Palestine, the United States, and other destinations. Forced to close the consulate as the German army approached in the fall of 1940, he then served in several consulates in Nazi-occupied Europe. Stationed in Bucharest, Romania, at war's end, he was detained in Romania and Russia, then returned in Tokyo in 1947 and was forced to resign from the foreign ministry. He subsequently worked at menial jobs and then with an export company; his efforts in Kaunas were unrecognized until the late 1960s.

See Y. Sugihara (his wife), Visas for Life (tr. 1995), and H. Levine, In Search of Sugihara (1996); Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness (documentary, 2005).

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