Israeli Memorial To Japanese Diplomat Removed

Israeli memorial to Japanese diplomat removed

An Israeli semi-governmental organization says it will apologize for the removal of a memorial to a Japanese diplomat who helped save Jews during World War Two.

While working at the Japanese consulate in Lithuania during the war, Chiune Sugihara issued transit visas against orders. His humanitarian deed enabled Jews to flee from Nazi German persecution, saving as many as 6,000 lives.

In his honor, Israel planted 400 pine and other trees and built a monument in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, in 1985.

But it was recently discovered that the trees had been cut down and the monument removed without permission when condominiums were built near the site.

Sugihara's son, Nobuki, visited the site on Tuesday. He had attended a tree-planting ceremony there in 1985.

Nobuki said he was shocked and saddened to see that the trees and the monument were gone. He recalled planting the trees together with Holocaust survivors his father had issued visas to. He said that at the time he had hoped the saplings grow into a forest, like the offspring of the survivors.

The Jewish National Fund, which was tasked with managing the trees, said it will send Nobuki a letter of apology. The fund told NHK that it is planning to plant trees elsewhere in memory of the diplomat.