President Gitanas Nausėda and Diana Nausėdienė attended the ceremony of unveiling a monument to Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.
“I am so pleased to be able to say that today the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara is returning to Kaunas – and to Lithuania. Today we unveil a monument to a person whose humanity and courage have long ago become a moral compass for all of us. Sugihara is coming back to where 80 years ago he issued visas for life to the Jewish refugees who sought shelter from war and suffering”, the President said.
According to the President, many of those rescued have always kept the memory of this outstanding person from far-away Japan alive. And even though the freedom of Lithuania was trampled by the occupiers, its spirit lived on in the noble deeds of Sugihara and other Righteous Among the Nations. Risking their own life to save the life of another human being, they helped to save the world from physical and moral self-destruction.
During the visit to Japan last year, the President visited the memorial museum in the hometown of Chiune Sugihara in Gifu Prefecture. According to the President, the memory of Chiune Sugihara and his moral legacy stood as a strong bridge for the modern generation. This personality was a wonderful symbol of the friendship connecting our two states and significantly contributing to bilateral relations between Lithuania and Japan.
Chiune Sugihara who held the office of the Japanese vice-consul in Kaunas through 1939–1940 issued Japanese transit visas to Jews. Although this was against the policy of the Japanese Government of the time, those visas helped save over 6000 lives. The Israeli Yad Vashem Center has awarded Chiune Sugihara the title of the Righteous Among the Nations for his humane activities.
The unveiling of the monument was the final event of the Sugihara week in Kaunas. This year has been designated as the year of Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania to honor the 80th anniversary of the activities of the Japanese diplomat.