The Class A Criminals Were Heroes Who Saved the Jews: An Interview with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer
"Some Views of Western Experts Who Thought Japan's War Was Justified" (Part 6)

An Old Moral Judgment: Wartime Japan Was an “Evil Nation”.
A Statement of Fact: The Japanese Were Trying to Realize the Ideal of Racial Equality.

Recently, China has been criticizing Japan by comparing it to the Nazis. But the truth is that Japan was the only country in the world that came to the aide of the Jews who were under persecution by the Nazis. This is in spite of the fact that Japan was a German ally. In fact, many of those who had led the rescue of the Jews were the Class A War Criminals who were later executed. We asked Mr. Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi (teacher of Judaism) who currently lives in America and has had experience living in Japan, what circumstances led Japan to assist the Jews.


About Rabbi Marvin Tokayer


Rabbi Marvin Tokayer began his Rabbinic career in 1962 as a US Air Force chaplain stationed in southern Japan. In 1968, he returned to serve as Rabbi of the thousand-member Jewish community of Japan, a post he held until 1976; and he remains as a Lifetime Honorary Rabbi of the community. He has also served on the Federation of Jewish Communities of Southeast Asia and the Far East and as Founding Board Member of the Sino-Judaic Institute. He has contributed seven articles on Rabbinics and the Orient for the Encyclopedia Judaica. He has authored twenty books in Japanese on Judaica and Japan, and coauthored (with Mary Swartz) “The Fugu Plan The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews during World War II”.

Interview with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer

Interviewer: Jiro Ayaori, Hanako Cho
Recorded on March 28, 2014

Q: You have so much knowledge about wartime history in Japan. What made you interested in Japanese wartime history?


As Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan, I Learned About Jewish Life in Japan During the WWII

A: In 1968, I came to Japan and served as the Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan. On my first day in Japan, there was a welcome ceremony for the new Rabbi, who was me. I didn’t know anyone. It was the first time I was there. I had never met them; they had never met me.

People came in, and the first person said, “Hello”. I don’t why but I asked, “Where are you from?” He said, “Mongolia.” I said, “Mongolia”. I didn’t know where Mongolia was. I had never met anyone from Mongolia.

I said, “What were you doing in Mongolia?” He said, “I had a department store.” I said, “I didn’t know they had department stores in Mongolia.” Then, he took from his wallet a photo of a store, two stories high, and over the front door was a six-pointed star, the Star of David, a Jewish star. I could not believe that there was a Jewish store in Mongolia.

Then, the second person came in, and I said, “Where are you from?” He said, “Japan.” “Japan?” I said, “Where were you during the war?” He said, “I was in Japan.” Being raised in America, I thought that Japan and the Nazis were the same.

Yosuke Matsuoka went to Berlin where he signed an agreement, so I said, “Must have been terrible for the Jewish people in Japan.” He said, “No.” I said, “Must have been persecution.” He said “No.” I said, “There must have been concentration camps.” He said, “No, if only more of our people were here, then they would have been saved and safe.”


Through Interviews, I Collected the History of the Jewish Community of Japan

I was not aware of this history. It shocked me. I had never heard of it. And so, for maybe two or three years, I never said anything, but I interviewed and listened. I usually did a lot of talking, but back then it was more important for me to listen.

I interviewed the Jewish people who were in parts of Japan such as Kobe, Nagoya, Tokyo, and Yokohama. I collected their information, their dairies, and their photographs. Japan was inventing small tape recorders at the time, larger than now, but I could use them. I spent many years interviewing and collecting information.


Top Secret Documents Revealed Facts About Japan’s Relationship with the Jews

One day a man by the name of Mischa Kogan, who was from Manchu, China, came to me. He was in university for the bombings in Tokyo during the war. One day he came to me with a large kerchief and put it on my desk. I opened it up and said, “What’s this?” He said, “Open it; it’s a book.” A book! I opened it up, and saw a red stamp, “Top Secret”.

I said, “What’s this?” He said, “Right after the war, I found 8,000 pages of top secret documents from the Cabinet.” I had never heard of the Cabinet meetings. He said, “You know, I’m a business man. I have no time for this. You keep asking so many questions. You’re so interested, so curious. If I were you, I’d take your time. It’s difficult Japanese, because it’s pre-war Japanese, not like the easy Japanese of today. You can get help from someone to translate it and go through it.”


I Looked for the Members of the Japanese Government Who Wrote the Secret Documents

I was now sitting with information on cabinet meetings where they were discussing Jewish people. It was a notebook. I never heard of the meetings. No one had ever taught me about them. I never heard of them, and no one would believe me.

Then I went looking for the families of the Japanese people, either to find the men or their wives, or their children, or their diaries, or their photographs.

I eventually had the Jewish side, the Japanese side, and the Japanese government’s side. I visited Kobe and other places to see if anyone remembered.


I Searched for All of the People Who Helped the Jews During the War

1940 was a long time ago. 1941 is now 73 years ago. I went looking for newspaper articles or for people who remembered when Japan saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people.

I wrote to Chiune Sugihara. He did not want to talk to me. He was afraid to talk to me. He said, “I have your letter. When I am ready to talk to you, I will talk to you.” Then one day, I got a letter, “Now you can call me.”


I Was the First Westerner to Speak with Chiune Sugihara About His Visas

I went to see him at his company. I was the first person to interview him. I wish I’d been older, I was very young then. But I spent an entire day with Sugihara asking him about the whole story.


I Produced Jewish History Books in Two Languages

Then I wrote a book which was published in English and Japanese, “The Fugu Plan”. Later I wrote another book about Jewish history in Japan, which was what interested you.

That was how I got started.

Q: Did you research on your own?


I Told the World About How Jacob Schiff Aided Japan’s Fight Against Russia When No One Else Would Supply Japan with Funding

A: Correct. No one had ever heard of this information, for example, the famous story about Jacob Schiff. During the Russo-Japanese War, more than 100 years ago, Jacob Schiff gave Japan 196,250,000 dollars. Can you imagine? In 1904, at that time, not today’s money, 196 million. Well, Jacob Schiff had a diary of his visit to Japan.

Q: What did he write in his diary?

A: That was what was in the book, and how he met Emperor Meiji. He had lunch with him. I have his diary.

Q: You have the actual diary?

A: They printed about twenty copies. I also met with the Takahashi family. They remembered when Jacob Schiff visited their home. They were little children then. So, I collected and collected. I knew I had to collect. I could always write later, but I had to have information, so I collected.


I Met the Family Members of Norihiro Yasue and Koreshige Inuzuka

There was a ‘Norihiro Yasue’ who was mentioned. I met his son. Russians in Siberia killed Yasue. He never came home after the war.

There was a ‘Koreshige Inuzuka’, I met his wife. His wife had an excellent diary. She lived near Shinagawa. I went to visit her maybe one hundred times. She had a good library. She remembered everything.

Q: Many people were famous for saving Jewish people, but I’m interested in Hideki Tojo. He also saved many Jewish people. What do you know about Tojo?

I Was Interested in Hideki Tojo’s Role in the Saving of the Jews, Too

A: I was the first to write about Tojo. He was not such a popular person. They blamed Tojo for the war at the end of the war. There were no documents connecting Tojo to the Jews. There was nothing at all in writing.

There was one meeting at a Tokyo Hotel where Tojo met some Jewish people, but he had too much sake to drink. They wrote about it. I have their diaries. They met him late at night – at ten or eleven o’clock, but he had unfortunately drunk too much.


Had There Not Been Tojo’s Approval, Higuchi and Yasue Could Not Have Saved the Jews

In Manchu, Kiichiro Higuchi got all of the credit. He deserved all of the credit because what he did was magnificent. He took trains to the Soviet border and took people over. I met Kiichiro Higuchi, but he was already very, very old. I went to his funeral in Tokyo, too.

In Japan, and you know the Japanese better than me, you cannot make a decision unless the person above you approves it. And the person above Higuchi had to approve it because nobody sent for trains by himself. That would have been crazy

Higuchi could not have done it. It wasn’t the system. He had to have gotten approval.

If Higuchi and Yasue had arranged to save the Jews, they must have received Tojo’s approval. I don’t have any pieces of paper to prove it, but they could not have done it by themselves. They would have had to have gone to the top, because Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany.


The Jewish People, Who Were Stuck in the Soviet Union, Would Have Died If Higuchi, Yasue, and Tojo Had Not Helped Them

The Jewish people were on the Soviet side of the border. They had no visas for Manchuria. None of them had ever heard of Manchuria. None of them knew they needed visas to get Manchuria. They thought they were going to Vladivostok, but all of a sudden the train went to the Manchuria border. They had to cross Manchuria to get to Shanghai. They got stuck, and that was where the Japanese saved them.

Kiichiro Higuchi became a big hero, but he could not have done it without Tojo. He could not have. No Japanese could have. He had to have gone to the top for his approval.

Tojo had to have said okay or Higuchi and Yasue would have not done it. He had to have said okay, but I do not have a piece of paper. There was no paperwork.

Q: Mr. Higuchi told you that Tojo said okay?


I Believe That Tojo Must Have Known About Higuchi’s Actions, but Tojo Didn’t Document His Decision Making

A: When I met Kiichiro Higuchi, he was very old. His memory was not to be trusted, and I spoke to his family members. Higuchi made the decision, but Higuchi could not have made it alone. Higuchi could not have done it by himself.

He had to have gotten approval from somebody above him. He must have gotten Tojo’s approval. Tojo had to have known about it.

How could Higuchi have done it and Tojo have not known that it had happened? It was his responsibility. If something had gone wrong, they would have blamed Tojo, not Higuchi. People would have blamed the top.

So, Tojo had to have known about it. He must have known. He should have known about it.

Q: Was he a central person in the saving of them?


Most Jews Traveled to Japan on Sugihara’s Visas

A: Ninety percent of the refugees, who escaped from Europe, went to Vladivostok, and from Vladivostok they were able to travel to Tsuruga with Sugihara’s visas.


One Train Unexpectedly Went off Course with Jewish People Bound for Japan

One train from Moscow did not go to Vladivostok, and nobody on the train knew it. It went to the border of Manchuria where it stopped. The train staff said to the people, “Okay, go.”

The Jewish people, who were at the border said to each other, “Do you have to have a visa for Manchuria? What’s Manchuria?” None of them had ever heard of Manchuria.

There was no Ambassador for Manchuria in Lithuania or in Poland. Manchuria was basically a Japanese puppet state. They didn’t have any visas, and without visas they could not enter Manchuria.

It was wintertime. It was the Soviet Union. They didn’t want to be outside in the wintertime in the Soviet Union with no place to go. Could they have said they’d leave? No, they couldn’t have left; they would have been sent to the slave labor camps. That was the problem.


Japanese Leaders Arranged to Transport the Jewish People, Who Were Stranded in the Wrong Place, to Safety

So, Norihiro Yasue, who was a very, very good man, made arrangements with the Jewish Community in Harbin. “I am going to bring these people to you. You can take care of them. I won’t give them to the Japanese here to be taken care of; you will take care of them. I’ll arrange for their transportation to Shanghai. I’ll send a train to the border that will take them all.”

That was Yasue, that was Higuchi, and that was with Tojo’s approval. It wasn’t the case for every train. Most trains went straight to Vladivostok, and the Jewish people took boats to Tsuruga.


A Staff Member of Japan’s Tourism Division Also Researched Japanese People Who Helped the Jews Escape from the Holocaust During the War

You can talk to Akira Kitade who recently wrote a book about it. His book is now in Japanese. He has an album. He worked with the Japan Travel Bureau. He interviewed the people on the boats who brought over the refugees, who welcomed them, and who smiled to them.

Q: In Kobe?


The Researcher Worked in Shipping and Transportation Between Russia and Japan

A: It happened at Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture. It was Vladivostok to Tsuruga. He interviewed the people, who were on those ships, who were on the boats that went back and forth and back and forth.

Vladivostok is located in Siberia, and the waterways are very difficult. It takes three days and two nights when the weather is good, but it usually takes more than that because the weather is always bad in Siberia.

People took photographs of all the crew on the ships. You must see the faces of those Japanese, not only the government officials. They were so kind. They were so nice. They were so pleasant. There’s an album of these people and their comments.

Kitade and his boss, who worked for JTB, were in charge of shipping and transportation from Vladivostok to Tsuruga. Kitade collected all of the information. Then he went to all the newspapers, and he looked for all of the people who remembered the refugees when they came.


The History of Jews in Japan Recently Made the News in New York City

A few weeks ago, in New York, in Grand Central Station in Manhattan, they had Japan Week for tourism, and they showed a movie. Do you know what the movie was? The movie was an interview of Kitade and me. It showed the refugees that the Japanese saved from Vladivostok to Tsuruga, and it made all of the newspapers. It was in the New York Times with a big article about how the Japanese saved the Jews.

Japan’s Tourist Bureau produced the show, and tens of thousands of people saw it. Yesterday, I met with the head of the Japan Travel Bureau’s office, He asked me for help.


The Relatives of the Sugihara Visa Survivors Plan to Tour Japan

The JTB is planning three tours of Japan for the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Sugihara’s visas. They’re going to visit Tsuruga, and they’re going to see where Sugihara lived. They’re going to go to Kobe, and they’ll also visit Kyoto. They will do the entire route of the refugees to see where they were.

It’s an interesting, interesting story, and it’s a very, very nice story; the Japanese were kind, polite, and welcoming. There is the Japanese government, and there are the Japanese people. The government can do what’s good for the government, and you never know what the government’s going to do. But the people, like the two of you, are very, very nice.


The Lives of the Jewish People in Europe and Japan Were Very Different During the War

In Europe, they took the Jewish people to Auschwitz, murdered them, killed them all, and tortured them all. If you talk to the refugees who came to Japan, maybe 6,000 of them, when they got off the ship; they got presents. Japanese teachers came to Kobe, took all the children, and taught them the Japanese language. I have photographs of the children.

Japanese doctors said, “Are you sick?” No payment required. You don’t have to pay. What a difference between Japan and Europe at that time, and Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany.


Hideki Tojo Defended Japan’s Right To Promote Racial Equality to the Nazis with Respect to the Jewish Refugees

I’ll tell you another Tojo story. Higuchi gave a speech saying the Jewish people should have their own country, Israel. They didn’t have one. They deserved to have one.

Higuchi said the Jewish people contributed a lot to the world. Freud was Jewish; Einstein was Jewish, and Marx was Jewish. The Germans complained. The Nazis complained. “We are friends. The Jewish people are our enemies.”

Higuchi told Tojo, “This is an internal problem of Japan. These people are here. We don’t tell German people what to do in Germany. They shouldn’t tell us what to do in Tokyo. We don’t discriminate against Jewish people. They should mind their own business.”

Tojo said, “That’s correct. It’s our business. We make our own decisions. Why should the Germans make decisions for us? It’s a domestic problem, not an international problem.”

Q: Does the Jewish community know that Tojo saved the Jewish people?


People Aren’t Aware That Hideki Tojo Saved Jewish People During the War

A: No. Only I know it. Nobody knows it. I don’t know if he actually saved them, but Tojo approved of the saving of the Jews. That is correct.

I would say, during the wartime, there were not too many nice things said about Tojo to the Jewish community. You should be the person to say it and say it loud. You have to say the bad and say the good as well. Tell the truth. The truth is your best friend. If not for Tojo, the Jewish people would not have survived.


Even as an Old Man, Kiichiro Higuchi Never Forgot What He Did for the Jewish People During the War and His Witnesses Have Remembered as Well

As for Higuchi, there were not so many people on the train; he did not remember so well, but there were maybe between 1,000 to 2,000 people there, and the people that I asked, who lived during that time, remembered it. They remembered when that train came. It was true. It happened. There were witnesses.

Q: How were the Jewish people treated who made it to Japan or out of Poland or the other countries?


The Jews in Japan, Who Escaped the War in Europe, Lived in Paradise

A: They were treated with kid gloves. It was an absolute paradise. They called it the Garden of Eden. It was the Garden of Eden. They had food, clothing, shelter, visas, etc., etc., etc.


The Japanese Police Were Willing to Defend the Lives of the Jews in Kobe

As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you a charming story. There was a brass plate in Kobe over which said the “Jewish Community of Kobe”. All of a sudden, they took a screwdriver, and they took off the brass plate.

Why did they take the sign off? The police watched everything. The military police watched everybody. They got called in.

The police said, “You had a brass plate over there, which you took away. Why did you take it off? What’d you do with it?

They said, “We have it. We know that you are friends with the Germans, and it might be embarrassing to you that here is a Jewish Community. We know what is happening in Europe. We know where the community is. We don’t need a sign.”

The police responded, “Oh, you are afraid of the Germans. Put that sign back up. If anybody says anything to you, come to us.” For the Jews living in Japan, it was an absolute paradise. They didn’t lose anybody.

Q: Did they stay in Japan or did they leave?


Jews with Tourist Visas and Resident Visas Received Different Treatment from the Japanese Authorities

A: If they were residents of Japan, they stayed in Japan, but they stayed out of the war zones and out of the bombing areas where they were safe. Nobody was lost because of bombs because they went to resort areas.

However, if people came as refuges on ten day visas because they thought they were going to America, their incomes were zero. America wasn’t taking anybody, as Pearl Harbor was coming close, which the Americans knew but nobody else knew.

Those people with tourist visas were refuges on welfare. They had no food, no jobs, no money, nothing, and besides they weren’t Japanese. They could have been spies, so the Japanese exported all of them to Shanghai, and said “You know your people are over there; let them feed you. We fed you enough.”

In the summer of 1941, and Pearl Harbor was December of ’41, those who were refugees, who were not residents and had no place to go, were given tickets to Shanghai, goodbye. The residents were saved; the refugees were sent to Shanghai. That was what happened to them.

Q: What do you know about the Japanese leader, Yosuke Matsuoka?


Matsuoka Favored the Alliance Between Japan and Germany, but He Didn’t Promise To Carry Out Germany’s Anti-Semitic Policies

A: Matsuoka documented his activities. During the New Year holiday, Matsuoka called on a Mr. Zykman. He was in the sugar business. Matsuoka said to him, “I am the man responsible for the alliance with Hitler, but nowhere have I promised that we would carry out his anti-Semitic policies in Japan. This is not simply my personal opinion, it is the opinion of Japan, and I have no compunction about announcing it to the world.”

The rest of the government also said there wouldn’t be any anti-Jewish policies. “Let the Germans do what they want; they can’t tell us what to do here.”


Japan’s Jewish Conductor and the Nazi Response to Him

The NHK Symphony Orchestra had a conductor from 1939 to 1945 during the wartime. Who was the conductor of the orchestra? Joseph Rosenstock. That wasn’t a Japanese name. He was a Jewish refugee from Austria.

The German Ambassador said, “We have a real German who can be the conductor of your orchestra.” The Japanese said, “I didn’t ask you. This was our decision. Don’t tell us who should be in our orchestra”. He was there for the whole war. He wrote a memoir. I have his memoir.

Q: For how long did the Japanese assist the Jews in getting out of Europe? How many Jews did they save?


Jewish Travel from Europe to Japan Ended When the War Started Between Germany and the Soviet Union

A: When and how many are different questions. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, which was in June of 1941, the trains stopped. The Jewish people couldn’t get on the trains anymore. They shut them down because they couldn’t take the train to Moscow. There weren’t any trains anymore. There was a war going on. How many were saved? They thought around 6,000 people.


There Was No Justice in the Tokyo Trial

Yosuke Matsuoka died in Sudan otherwise he would have been a Class A Criminal.

The War Crimes Trials were in Nuremburg, Germany and Sugamo, Japan. The War Crimes Trial in Germany was legitimate with proper, legal discussions. The War Crimes Trial in Japan was terrible. The Judges were terrible. There was no trial. It was not fair, and everybody was guilty before they walked in. It was a terrible piece of justice.

Germany was correct with justice. Sugamo was not just. Most of the Judges were sleeping; they never even came. They hated Japan before they visited there. The judges shouldn’t have been partial, but the image of Japan was so bad at that time, there could not have been fair trial for anyone.

Matsuoka could have had a good trial because he had a lot to say but he died without a trial. Tojo was executed as a Class A War Criminal, but there was no evidence. The Sugamo trial and its justice, to me, was a tragedy. There was no justice. There was no fair trial.

Q: Did you research the Tokyo Trial?


The Tokyo Trial Wasn’t Fair

A: I did. Yes, I also met with a Buddhist monk who went to visit the prisoners in Sugamo. He was talking to them and meeting with them.

I’m not a lawyer; my field is history. It’s not really my field, but whatever I read about it was very embarrassing and very disappointing. I studied more of the Occupation than the Sugamo trial.

There was so much bitterness and so much frustration that Japan did not surrender, and that the war kept on going, and that the planned invasion of Japan would have been difficult with heavy losses of life on both sides. The trial was an embarrassment. No fair conclusions came from that trial. It was not legitimate. There should have been a trial, and it should have been fair, but there was no fair trial.

Q: Was the fact that Tojo saved Jews known to participants of the Trial?

A: I don’t know what he said. I was not at the Trial. I don’t think it was mentioned.

Q: What if the facts about Tojo had been known? In your opinion, would it have made a difference that he saved the Jews?


A Cigarette Case Saved a Life

A: I’ll tell you a story. Inuzuka Koreshige was a Navy Captain in Shanghai in charge of the Jewish question. He was very helpful to the Jewish people, very, very helpful, and even very helpful to Americans who were in Shanghai when the war started.

After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese didn’t need a Navy Captain, sitting in Shanghai, doing nothing. They sent him out to sea, and he ended up in the Philippines.

Before he left Shanghai, a Jewish man from New York was sent to Shanghai to see what the status of 25,000 Jews was. They lived in Shanghai, and 20,000 of them were refugees. Did they need help? Did they need food? Did they have jobs? Did they have money, etc.?

This man went there, and he did research, okay. He met Inuzuka, and everybody told him, “He has helped us with everything.” He went to Inuzuka and he gave him a gift, a silver cigarette case, with his initials, KI, Koreshige Inuzuka, and inside it he wrote, “In grateful appreciation for your help to the Jewish people in Shanghai in 1941.”

Inuzuka told him, “I work for the Emperor; you cannot bribe me, and you cannot give me gifts. I cannot take it.” The man said to him, “This is not a bribe, and it is not a gift. Today is a Jewish holiday. (It was Purim.) And on this holiday, we give gifts to our best friends. You are our best friend. This has nothing to do with a bribe. You are like family to us. We want to share this holiday with you.”

Inuzuka replied with thank you, and he took it.

When the Pacific War started, he went to the Philippines.

When you read about the last fight in Manila, how many Filipinos lost their lives to starvation? Inuzuka was taken to the War Crimes Trial, everybody in the Philippines was.

He looked at the Court. He was smart enough to realize that the lawyer for the American government was Jewish and one of the judges was Jewish. Inuzuka said to them, “I think you have the wrong person.” They said, “What are you talking about?”

Inuzuka said, “Look at this.” He gave them the cigarette case, and he walked out. Five days later, he walked out. It saved his life.

I have a new book coming out next month, and I wrote a chapter titled, “A Cigarette Case Saved a Life”. I asked Mrs. Inuzuka for the cigarette case. She gave it me, and I gave it to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem as evidence that Japan helped the Jews in China. It’s there now at the Museum.

Q: Doesn’t that story mean that the Japanese Emperor also helped to preserve the status of racial equality for the Jewish people in the Japanese War? It was the Emperor’s wish, and it was the Japanese government’s hope when it promoted the idea of Hakku Ichiu.


I Was a Friend of Emperor Hirohito’s Brother, Mikasa-No-Miya, Who Taught Jewish History

A: I did not really know Hirohito. I never met him. I just waived to him once. It could have been. I know that the Emperor’s brother, Mikasa-no-miya, was a very close friend of the Jewish people. He was a very good friend of mine. He taught about Jewish history, well, he’s an old man now. He’s not so young, and his son recently passed away, but I don’t know anything about any connection.


Japanese Leaders Wanted to Help the Jews During the War Because They Wanted To Return Jacob Schiff’s Favor to Emperor Meiji

I know about Meiji, but I don’t know about Emperor Hirohito. I do know that Meiji said to Jacob Schiff, when they met in the Palace, “When no one believed in us, you believed in us. You gave us a chance. Maybe one day we can do for you what you did for us.”

The Cabinet during Nazi times said, “When Japan had no money, one man, Jacob Schiff gave us the money to become a great Nation. Now Jacob Schiff’s people are in trouble in Europe. Maybe we can do for them what Schiff did for us.” That was a very nice thing to say. That was also another reason that they wanted to save Jews because they owed Jacob Schiff a favor.

Every year, two or three journalists from Japan, who are writing articles about Meiji, call me and say, “Where is Meiji?” I say Meiji died a long time ago. They say, “Where is Meiji buried? We want to have a photograph next to Meiji’s tombstone. Do you know where it is?” I say, “Yes, I know where he is; I go over there all the time. And I go over there, and I take their pictures by Meiji’s tombstone at the Cemetery, not far from here.

Anyway, the Cabinet remembered that story about Emperor Meiji, and the government actually felt that they owed Meiji a favor; and that they owed Schiff a favor, and when they saved Jews, part of the reason was, “He helped us; we should help them.”


A German Jew Spied for Japan During Its War with Russia

As a matter of fact, Ambassador Oshima in Berlin said to Japan, during the Russo-Japanese war, there was a German Jew who was a spy for Japan. He gave Japan information as to where the ships were in the ports and where they were going. That was a naval war. They had to know where the ships were going.

When the Nazis took everything away from him, Oshima said, “You should save him. You should help him because in the Russo-Japanese War he gave us all the information about their ships.

Q: Why don’t more Americans know more about what Japan did to help the Jewish people during the War?


Americans Look for Inspiration in the Wrong Direction

A: Americans always thinks west. Ancestry is from Dusseldorf, Paris, Moscow, and Bagdad. We never think east. We’re blinded by the West. It’s a mistake, but we’re blinded.

Our ancestry is not from Japan. Our ancestry is not from China. Our ancestry is from somewhere in Europe. That was where our great-grandparents lived.

Okay, so we always look that direction. It’s a mistake. That’s a mistake because there’s no future in the Ukraine. The future is in Japan. The future is in China. The future is in India.

There’s no future in Norway. There’s no future in Belgium. There is no future in the Ukraine. The future is in Asia. We should know that, but we’re always looking in the wrong direction.

Q: What do you think the best way is to spread these facts to the American people?


People Should Write About the Interesting Jews in Japan

A: You have to write about it. I have to write about it. I lecture about it all the time, but I’m only one person. It’s very, very, very important.

As a matter of fact, in the book that is coming out next month, there will be two volumes of the book, which only make that point. They’re called “Amazing Stories of Jews and the Far East”. They’re about the Jews in India, in Burma, in Singapore, in the Philippines, in Japan, in Hong Kong, and in Manchuria. We’ve been there for more than 2,000 years.

There are lots of interesting things in Japan that you don’t know about. The first Mayor of Tokyo and Yokohama was Jewish. You don’t know that. The first Newspaper in Japan was started by a Jew. Western art was started by a Jew. The first constitution was written by a Jew.


Japanese Diplomats Saved a Woman from Nazi Executioners, the Daughter of a Jewish Legal Advisor Who Helped Draft the Meiji Constitution

I’ll tell you something else about when the Japanese wrote a new Constitution in Meiji. There was a German Ambassador to Japan during the war, who was walking in the streets of Berlin where he met a woman, a friend of his. He looked at her and said, “What are you doing here?” She said, “I already have a note, they’re sending me to be gassed and to be killed in Auschwitz.” He said, “What!” She said, “Yes, goodbye.”

“Where do you live, what’s the address?” he said. That German Ambassador went to the Japanese Embassy in Berlin during the War, and said, “Do you know the name Albert Mosse?” They said, “Yes, he was one of the writers of the Meiji Constitution.” He said, “I just saw his daughter in the street, and they’re waiting to kill her. You should save her.”

The Japanese did. They did. They went to the Germans and said, “Leave her alone. She’s with us.”

You can look up his name, ‘Mosse’. He was one of the writer’s of the Meiji Constitution. The Japanese loved him. They loved him in Japan, and the Japanese remembered him. Luckily, she met somebody in the street who remembered her, and he went right to the Japanese Embassy where they saved her life.


Japan Should Commemorate the Five Ministers Including Itagaki, a Class A War Criminal, Because They Were Heroes to the Jewish People

Q: What do you think of the Five Minister’s Conference?

A: In December of 1938 there was The Five Minister’s Conference to establish government policy on the Jews, which was fair and proper. Everybody in the world should know about it.

Hero’s all of them. There were five ministers at that meeting, not just the Army (and Naval) Minister. It included the Finance Minister, the Prime Minister, and the Foreign Minister. You should write about it in large kanji because it included the highest levels of the Government.

It was very anti-Nazi. Hitler came to power in ’33. This conference was in ’38. They said, “We will treat the Jews equally.” That Conference set the policy of the government, and that policy remained. Although after Pearl Harbor, they said they weren’t sure whether they should keep that policy or not, but the policy remained.

All of those five should be highly, highly decorated, respected, and honored. Japan should even make a postage stamp. I’m serious. Japan should do something for them.

They said it, and that was the government policy at the highest level of the Japanese government. Nobody else in the world did that. Nobody did that. That was to their credit. The Five Minister’s Conference changed it all.

Q: Would you please talk about the Golden Book?


Dr. Kaufmann, President of the Association of Former Jewish Residents of China, and Also President of the Israel-China Friendship Society, Told Me That He Didn’t Include Hideki Tojo’s Name in the Golden Book Because the Jewish Community Didn’t Meet with Him

A: The Golden Book, okay. That was a direct result of the train from Otopol. That was why Higuchi and Yasue were in the Golden Book. They did it to show their respect and appreciation.

I asked, “Why didn’t you put Tojo’s name there?” They never saw him. They said they never met him. They spoke to Higuchi; they spoke to Yasue. They met with them.

If they would have met him, Tojo’s name would have been there. They never saw him. It was probably Higuchi that went to Tojo and said, “We’re doing it. Is this okay?” Tojo said, “Yes,” but the Jewish community never met with Tojo to discuss it.

Q: That was the only reason that Tojo’s name didn’t appear in the Golden Book?

A: It was the only reason. If he would have done it, his name would have been there. Absolutely. The person who arranged it was Dr. Theodore Kaufman, who was President of the Jewish Community of Manchuria and the whole Far East.

His son, who I met a hundred times, knew everything about his father. He had helped his father. I said, “Why didn’t you put Tojo’s name there?” He said, “We never saw him. We never spoke to him. How can we thank him for something we don’t even know he did? Higuchi didn’t say, “Tojo said.”

Higuchi and Yasue never said that. They said, “We’re taking the trains, and we’re saving them.” They never said they had negotiated with Tojo.

The Jewish people never met with him. Whoever they had met, they put in the Golden Book. They didn’t put Matsuoka’s name, who also helped them. He was not there at the time. That’s why they put those two people in there.

Q: How should we share this information about the Jewish people?

A: How should you share it? Write it and sell it! I’m serious. It’s important for Japan, and it’s very important for Jews that we know about it.

Q: Will they understand why?


Kobe’s Jewish School Was the Only One to Survive the Holocaust in Europe

A: Yes, for sure they will. There was only one Jewish, university-level school to survive the war in Europe. Do you know where it was? Kobe. They were the refugees.

There was only one school. The Germans destroyed every single Jewish school. Only one school escaped to Japan, and that was the only school to survive. It was the only one.

They still teach, seventy-five years later, “We would not be a school today if the Japanese had not saved us.” They had to issue over 300 visas because everyone needed a visa. They couldn’t have just one visa for the entire school. Everybody needed a visa, and everybody got visas, over 300 of them. They lived in Kobe.

The Class A Criminals Were Heroes Who Saved the Jews: An Interview with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer
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