Who was Sugihara Chiune?
Sugihara Chiune ("Sempo") (Japanese: 杉原 千畝 (1900–1986) was a Japanese diplomat who served in Lithuania in 1940. During World War II, Sugihara helped six thousand Jews flee Europe by issuing them with transit visas, so that they could travel through Japanese territory.
The fleeing Jews were from Lithuania, and from Western and Eastern Poland. He also negotiated with the Soviet authorities passage through USSR.
At the time, visas could only be issued to those who went through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds, conditions that the refugees did not fulfil. Also, visas could only be granted to those having a visa to a third destination to exit Japan. This (bogus) third destination was Curaçao, a Dutch colony that required no entry visa. Sugihara defied his orders and issued ten-day visas for transit through Japan to all applicants. This was an unusual act of disobedience. After arriving in Japan, the refugees remained in Kobe or in the Japan-occupied section of Shanghai until the end of the war.
For his acts of defiance, Sughihara was asked to resign from the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1947.
In 1985, one year before his death, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations" for his actions. Other honors bestowed on him include a Sugihara street in Vilnius, Lithuania, and one in Jaffa, Israel, the asteroid 25893 Sugihara, others in Japan and in his home town, and more.