Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Sugihara Chiune (1900–1986)

Japanese diplomat. Born 1 January 1900 at Yaotsu, Gifu Prefecture, Sugihara Chiune entered Waseda University in 1918. The next year, he passed an examination given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for overseas studies, and he became a student at a language institute in Harbin, Manchuria. After graduation, in 1924 Sugihara entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked in the Japanese consulate in Harbin.

In 1932, Sugihara was transferred to the Division of Foreign Affairs of Manzhouguo (Manchukuo) and was involved in negotiations with the Soviet Union for the transfer of the Eastern Chinese Railway. He then returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. After working in the ministry's Personnel Section and the Information Bureau, he was assigned in 1937 as a secretary and interpreter of legation in Helsinki, Finland.

Two years later, Sugihara was assigned as a vice consul to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he was acting consul. In July 1940, as the annexation of the Baltic countries to the Soviet Union loomed, many refugees (most of them Jews who had escaped from Poland) asked Sugihara for Japanese transit visas to escape from Lithuania. Sugihara took personal responsibility for issuing visas until the end of August. As a result, more than 6,000 Jewish refugees were saved.

Sugihara then worked in the Japanese consulates in Praha and in Königsberg and in the Japanese legation in Romania. After internment following the end of the war, Sugihara returned to Japan. He resigned from the diplomatic service in 1947. In 1978, the Israeli government honored him with a medal for his services in saving the lives of Jews during World War II. The government also bestowed on him Israel's highest honor as "Righteous among Nations." Sugihara died on 31 July 1986, at his home near Tokyo.

Masaaki Shiraishi


Further Reading
Levine, Hillel. In Search of Sugihara: The Elusive Japanese Diplomat Who Risked His Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews from the Holocaust. New York: Free Press, 1996.; Sakamoto, Pamela Rotner. Japanese Diplomats and Jewish Refugees: A World War II Dilemma. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.; Sugihara Seishiro. Chiune Sugihara and Japan's Foreign Ministry: Between Incompetence and Culpability. Trans. Norman Hu. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001.; Sugihara Yukiko. Visas for Life. Trans. Hiroko Sugihara with Anne Hoshiko Akabori. San Francisco: Edu-Comm Plus, 1995.
 

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