Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commemorates 'Japan's Schindler' in Lithuania

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commemorates 'Japan's Schindler' in Lithuania

The global community should step up pressure on North Korea to help defuse the stand-off over the isolated country's pursuit of long-range nuclear weapons, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday during a visit to Latvia. "As Japanese, I'm very proud of him", Abe told reporters after visiting the Sugihara House in Kaunas in central Lithuania.

But when Moscow invaded the country crowds of Jewish refugees, mostly from occupied Poland, started lining up at the Japanese consulate seeking visas to flee.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commemorates 'Japan's Schindler' in Lithuania

In 1984, Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, recognized Sugihara as Righteous Among the Nations, the only Japanese national to receive the honor.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has held talks with his Latvian counterpart Māris Kučinskis on Saturday.

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"Sugihara needed a lot of courage to do what he has done, especially when we know that it was unsafe for him to defy the government's orders", the head of Lithuania's Jewish community, Faina Kukliansky, told AFP.

The visas, which Sugihara issued against the wishes of the Japanese government, allowed many Jews to travel via Russian Federation to Japan despite Tokyo's alliance with Germany. During the visit, the prime minister and his wife were shown a picture panel with images of Sugihara signing transit visas for Jewish refugees, among other items.

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Abe told media: "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 global order is being challenged in various forms".

Japan's prime minister said that the recent improvements of the Vilnius-Tokyo ties had triggered bigger tourist flows.

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After their meeting in the Bulgarian capital, Abe, on his six-nation European tour, also announced Japan's plan to launch a cooperative initiative aimed at helping the Western Balkan countries, which were affected by the Yugoslav Wars, proceed with reforms and join the European Union.

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