Kuniko Katz's essays,
articles and letters
to the editors
Senpo Sugihara, a Japanese righteous
gentile-Japanese recognition of
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.