Many people easily remember the atrocities the Japanese did during the Second World War. Such accounts far eclipse the good heart and kindness some of the Japanese people have shown especially to the victims of Nazi persecution. Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat, is a name that would be remembered in World War history as someone who defied his own Foreign Ministry‘s orders to help the persecuted Jews.
Sugihara issued travel visas to around 6,000 fleeing Jews, which enabled them to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Polish Sonia Reed was 16 or 17 years old when she left for Japan with the help of a visa issued by the Japanese diplomat. She was among the seven escapees who left their photos to the Japanese in-charge of transporting them via sea, Tatsuo Osako. Osako was handling refugee transportations then under the Japan Tourism Bureau, now known as the Japan National Tourism Organization. Reed left a photo of herself to Osako with the message, “Remember me, nice Japanese.”
With the help of journalist Aya Takahashi, Japanese author Akira Kitade identified Reed, who passed away in 1997. But when her children saw the photo, they immediately recognized her and were “moved beyond words” that the kindness of a Japanese government official saved their mother’s life. Kitade, who recently published a book about Japanese nationals who helped fleeing Jews escape the Nazis, was a fellow under Osako. She has been working on identifying the rest of the seven Jews, who left their photos with Osako.
[ via Jiji Press ]
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