Lithuanian President Honors Late Japanese Diplomat

Lithuanian president honors late Japanese diplomat

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has visited Gifu Prefecture in central Japan to honor a late Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany during World War Two.

Chiune Sugihara, a Gifu native, disobeyed instructions from Japan's government and issued transit visas for the Jewish refugees while working at the Japanese consulate in Lithuania during the war.

Nauseda, who was in Japan to attend a ceremony marking the country's imperial succession, visited a memorial hall devoted to Sugihara in the town of Yaotsu on Thursday.

He laid flowers at a bust of Sugihara before displaying a plate bearing the message "Wishing everyone peace and harmony."

Nauseda said Sugihara saved thousands of people by facing danger with courage. He added that he hopes the people of Lithuania and Japan further deepen their friendship and cooperation.

A 70-year-old woman said it was a heartfelt ceremony and that Sugihara's achievement was great in a humanitarian sense.

Gifu Prefecture plans to promote exchange with Lithuania as next year marks 120 years since Sugihara's birth and 80 years since the issuance of his "visas for life."