Scarsdale station area

Kuniko Katz's essays, articles and letters to the editors

Senpo Sugihara, a Japanese righteous gentile-Japanese recognition of countryman,  The Scarsdale  Inquirer, Nov. 29, 1991

To the Editor:

On July 27, 1 wrote in the Scarsdale Inquirer about my visit to Mrs. Sugihara, whose deceased husband, Senpo Sugihara, saved thousands of Jewish people during World War II in Kovno, Lithuania. Shortly after this article, I wrote in OCS News, a New York based biweekly Japanese newspaper about Mr. Sugihara. In it 1 related his courageous acts and stated that it is time that the Japanese Government clears his name and officially recognizes his actions. As I wrote in The Inquirer, Mr. Sugihara was forced to resign from the Foreign Ministry upon his return to Japan after the war because he ignored the orders of his superiors. He was never exonerated from his dishonourable discharge while he was alive.

Then, in the middle of October, the Japanese consulate office in New York called and asked me to meet Mr. Muneo Suzuki, parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs, who was going home via New York after visiting the Baltic republics. He was in the Baltic nations on behalf of the Japanese Government to normalize diplomatic relations. So my husband and I met him when he arrived in New York.

Mr. Suzuki told us that the Foreign Ministry officially apologized to Mr. Sugihara's family on Oct. 4, and thus Mr. Sugihara's name was cleared posthumously. Mr. Suzuki said that the Foreign Ministry realized the significance of Mr. Sugihara’s actions because of the surge of recognition for him among Jewish people worldwide. Mr. Suzuki also said that his reading Mrs. Sugihara's newly published book, titled, "The Visas That Saved the Lives of 6000 People," also enabled him to understand exactly what had happened and to realize that he had to do something. Mr. Suzuki said that Lithuania named the street where the Japanese consulate was located "Sugihara Street” to commemorate establishing new relations with Japan.

At the end of our meeting, Mr. Suzuki told us that he was going to make sure that Mr. Sugihara's name would be immortalized as a model for all the staff and diplomats in the Foreign Ministry. It would have been surely greater if this had been done while Mr. Sugihara was alive, but I am happy that the Japanese Foreign Ministry finally applauded his humanitarian deeds.

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