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Premier Honors ‘Japanese Schindler’ During Lithuania Visit

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the former Japanese consulate in Lithuania on Sunday to commemorate a Japanese diplomat credited with saving an estimated 6,000 Jews from almost certain death in 1940.

Chiune Suhigara was serving as Japanese consul in Kaunas, then capital of Lithuania, when he disobeyed his superiors and issued Japanese visas to Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland despite his country being a close ally of Nazi Germany.

Abe’s visit to Lithunia, the first by a Japanese prime minister, comes as Japan seeks greater cooperation with countries such as China, a former adversary in World War Two, in the face of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“The courageous and humanitarian action of Mr Sugihara provides us with guidance as to how to we should survive in this world, where rule-of-law-based international order is being challenged in various forms,” Abe told reporters on Saturday.

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