Sugihara, Chiune “Sempo” the Japanese Schindler”.

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Sugihara, Chiune “Sempo”, born 01-01-1900, in Kozuchi Town, Empire of Japan (now Mino, Gifu Prefecture, Japan, to a middle-class father, Yoshimi Sugihara and an upper-middle class mother, Yatsu Sugihara. When he was born, his father worked at a tax office in Kozuchi-town and his family lived in a borrowed temple, with the Buddhist temple Kyōsen-ji where he was born nearby. He was the second son among five boys and one girl. His father and family moved into the tax office within the branch of the Nagoya Tax Administration Office one after another. In 1903 his family moved to Asahi Village in Niu-gun, Fukui Prefecture. In 1904 they moved to Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture. On 25-10-1905, they moved to Nakatsu Town, Ena-gun, Gifu Prefecture. In 1906 on 2 April, Chiune entered Nakatsu Town Municipal Elementary School (now Nakatsugawa City Minami Elementary School in Gifu Prefecture). On 31-03-1907 , he transferred to Kuwana Municipal Kuwana Elementary School in Mie Prefecture (currently Kuwana Municipal Nissin Elementary School). In December of that same year, he transferred to Nagoya Municipal Furuwatari Elementary School (now Nagoya Municipal Heiwa Elementary School). In 1912, he graduated with top honors from Furuwatari Elementary School and entered Aichi prefectural 5th secondary school (now Zuiryo high school), a combined junior and senior high school. His father wanted him to become a physician, but Chiune deliberately failed the entrance exam by writing only his name on the exam papers. Instead, he entered Waseda University in 1918 and majored in English language. At that time, he entered Yuai Gakusha, the Christian fraternity that had been founded by Baptist pastor Harry Baxter Benninhof, to improve his English..

In 1919, he passed the Foreign Ministry Scholarship exam. From 1920 to 1922, Sugihara served in the Imperial Army as a second lieutenant with the 79th Infantry, stationed in Korea, then part of the Empire of Japan. He resigned his commission in November 1922 and took the Foreign Ministry’s language qualifying exams the following year, passing the Russian exam with distinction. The Japanese Foreign Ministry recruited him and assigned him to Harbin, China, where he also studied the Russian and German languages and later became an expert on Russian affairs.

Sugihara married Klaudia Semionovna Apollonova and converted to Christianity (Russian Orthodox Church), using the baptismal name Sergei Pavlovich. In 1934, Sugihara quit his post as Deputy Foreign Minister in Manchuria in protest over Japanese mistreatment of the local Chinese. Sugihara and his wife divorced in 1935, before he returned to Japan, where he married Yukiko (1913–2008, born Kikuchi

after the marriage; they had four sons Hiroki, Chiaki, Haruki, Nobuki. As of 2021, Nobuki is the only surviving son and represents the Sugihara family   Yukiko Sugihara died 08-10-2008 in Fujisawa, Japan. She was 94..Haruki third son, was born in Kaunas. Died at the age of 6 of leukemia, age 6–7, Hiroki died in 1999, ager 63–64  Chiaki Sugihara (1938-2010) second son, born in Helsinki and studied in California, and the fourth son, born 1948, attended Hebrew University in Israel in 1968 at the invitation of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Fund. Represents the Sugihara family as the only surviving son of Chiune and now living in Belgium.

As the consul in Kaunas in Lithuania. he soon also exchanged information with the Lithuanian resistance. After some time, Jewish refugees came to him with papers, valid or not, for Curaçao and the Netherlands Antilles. These papers were issued by Jan Zwartendijk . Sugihara and Zwartendijk worked closely together, the Japanese and Dutch consulates were located not far from each other in Kaunas, the capital of Lithuania. Jan Zwartendijk was  the director of Philips in Lithuania and the honorary consul for the Netherlands signed visas for Curaçao to save the lives of more than 2000 Jews from the Holocaust during WW2. Recognizing that the western escape route had become too dangerous in Europe because of the war, Sugihara helped a total of at least 2,140 people obtain a 10-day transit visa for Japan in June and August 1940. When the Japanese authorities banned the issuing of visas to people with inadequate or no papers at all, he politely suggested that the refugees should be stopped at the border. But the Soviets insisted that anyone with a visa for Japan actually cross the border into Japan, and so the consul saved many lives. According to his wife, he felt it his duty to rescue refugees as an Orthodox Christian. On the number of refugees passing through Japan who held Japanese transit visas for Curaçao issued by Sugihara, the so-called “Sugihara visa”, there are two documents stating numbers of 2,200 and 6,000.The 6,000 persons as stated in Visas for Life is likely hearsay.

In the autumn of 1940 the consulate in Kaunas was closed and Sugihara worked in Koningsberg and Budapest. However, along with other diplomats, he was arrested by the Soviets and held in detention for two years. After his release, he returned to Japan but was dismissed from his position as a diplomat. From 1962 to 1975, he held a number of jobs, including one in the Soviet Union.

In 1985, in recognition of his life-saving activities in World War II, he received the honorary title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ from Yad Vashem in Israel. . Chiune Sugihara (seated, center) with family and then foreign minister Yitzhak Shamir in Tokyo, 1985..

Death and burial ground of Sugihara, Chiune “Sempo” the Japanese Schindler”.


Chiune Sugihara died at a hospital in Kamakura, on 31-07-1986, age 86. Despite the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, he had remained virtually unknown in his home country. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, attended his funeral, did his neighbours find out what he had done. His subsequent considerable posthumous acclaim contrasts with the obscurity in which he lived following the loss of his diplomatic career

Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara’s plaque in the garden at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem Sugihara, Chiune “Sempo” “the Japanese Schindler” is buried at the Kamakura Cemetery, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan.

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