An Israeli Cabinet Minister Visited the Grave of Chiune Sugihara
What would the hero who saved Jews wish for?
Main points in this article:
- An Israeli minister visited the grave of Chiune Sugihara for the first time.
- Former Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo was also working to save Jews.
- “Visa for Life” should be told to restore Japan’s reputation.
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Israeli Ambassador to Japan, Ruth Kahanoff visited the grave of a former Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Jews, who remember, and have learned from family members, are still grateful for Sugihara who is known for saving over 6,000 Jews during World War by issuing “Visas for Life.”This was the first visit to the grave by an Israeli cabinet minister, the Israeli government sources said.
Kahlon praised Sugihara’s deed, saying, “I express gratitude to Mr. Sugihara for saving Jews from Nazi persecution on behalf of the Israeli government. A lot of things are happening in the world now, so we need people like Sugihara.”
Nobuki Sugihara, Chiune’s fourth son, who now lives in Belgium, said, “My father would be delighted at the visit by the Israeli minister. I am happy if what he did deepens ties between Japanese and Jews and helps bring peace to the Middle East.”
Hideki Tojo, Japanese Prime Minister during WW2, Also Saved Jews
Chiune Sugihara who lived with a righteous spirit has inspired people not only in Japan but also around the world. The visit to the grave will become an opportunity to reevaluate Sugihara’s achievement.
However, if people consider Sugihara a hero because he was the only person who championed the cause of humanity in a Japan that was turning to fascism, we must say that they have an incorrect perception of history.
The Chinese government claims that Japan killed over 300,000 Chinese in Nanjing while people in western countries believe without questioning that the U.S. had no choice but to drop atomic bombs to end the war with Japan whom was deemed an atrocious invading nation. However, Hideki Tojo, whom the Chinese government calls the “Hitler of Asia,” actually saved Jews during World War Ⅱ, and this fact is little known to the world.
Just before the outbreak of World War, millions of Jews in Germany fled the country amid the intensifying persecution by the Nazis. At the time, Japan signed the Anti-Communist Pact with Nazi Germany. So if the Japanese government were to provide protection for Jews, it would have been inevitable that the cooperative relations between the two countries would be jeopardized. Despite this, Kiichiro Higuchi, who was Major General of the Japanese Imperial Army, decided to help protect Jews.
Angered by Higuchi’s act, the German government demanded that the Japanese government punish him, but Hideki Tojo, Higuchi’s then superior, spurned this demand by saying, “It’s the right thing to do from a humanitarian point of view.” What is more, he transferred Higuchi to a higher post of the army.
This illustrates that Japan held on to humanitarianism at a national level.
What Does Chiune Sugihara Wish for?
At the end of 2015, Ryuho Okawa, Founder and CEO of Happy Science, summoned the spirit of Chiune Sugihara, asking about a theory of justice in diplomacy. (Published in “A Theory of Justice in Japanese Diplomacy”)
The spirit of Mr. Sugihara appreciated people’s praise for his work, saying as follows:
“I appreciate that they use my work to vindicate Japan’s honor, but I do not want activities for my honor’s sake. I personally think that I acted on impulse as a mere diplomat, so I do not want them to act to redeem my own honor.”
People who live with determination to carry out justice and spirituality influence and inspire many people. We have a lot to learn from the way such people live.
Mr. Sugihara risked his life in saving the Jews, but if his courageous act is told to adversely highlight the incorrect historical perception that Japan was an invading nation, that will end up damaging his reputation. As the spirit of Mr. Sugihara wished, the story of “Visas for Life” should be told to restore the impaired reputation of Japan.