VILNIUS—Over the past decade, few foreign embassies in Lithuania have done as much as Japan’s to help ensure that the Holocaust in Lithuania is never forgotten and indeed, that remembrance events and educational programs feed into both national and international efforts to raise awareness and sensitivities in the cause of averting future massacres of innocent civilians.
Japan’s Holocaust remembrance achievements in Lithuania are manifold. From 2008, when state prosecutors connected to the Genocide Center began defaming local Holocaust survivors, Japan’s embassy joined with others in giving honor to the wrongly accused, including the 2009 “Walk in the Rain” organized by then Norwegian ambassador Steinar Gil. More well known are the embassy’s activities in commemoration of Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara, the inspirational Japanese humanist who saved thousands of lives by issuing visas in Kaunas in 1940 (enabling those people to flee Soviet rule directly, and indirectly from what was to come a year later, in 1941, with Hitler’s invasion and the massive local collaboration in genocide). One of the most important goes back to the turn of our century when the embassy participated actively, and generously, in setting up Sugihara House in Kaunas.