Essay on Chiune Sugihara

Submitted By JS-Gan
Words: 1237
Pages: 5

Analysis of the Statue of Chiune Sugihara

Every sculpture has its significance and tells a story of its own. Every posture and expression foreshadows a different aspect of that story. In the heart of downtown Los Angeles, in Little Tokyo, is a memorial sculpture named “ Chiune Sugihara Memorial, Hero of the Holocaust”. This memorial was to honor a man who risked his life and career in saving the lives of thousands.(Figure 1.) His name is Chiune Sugihara, who, during World War II, by an act of kindness and self-sacrifice, risked his life to save more than 6,000 Jews refugees. Sugihara’s heroic act of selfless has inspired people to live bravely and motivated people to be kind to one another. Sugihara was born in the small town of Yatsu, Japan. His mother hailed from a long line of samurai, so his early years were influenced by the samurai spirit. According to Kenichi Toya, a journalist and friend of Suigahara, stated that samurai spirit can be characterized as brave and to live strongly through life. Toya added, “As a friend who grew up together with Sugihara, I believe he had a very strong samurai spirit living deep within him” (“Conspiracy of Kindness”,08:25). Sugihara was a strong student in foreign languages, and fascinated by the foreign cultures. Soon after graduated from Tokyo's prestigious Waseda University, he became a foreign consultant for the Empire of Japan. Because he excelled in his work, the Japanese foreign ministry sent Sugihara to Lithuania to open a one-man consulate in 1939 (Chiune and Yukiki Sugihara,33). During his deployment in Lithuania, Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, was carrying out an extermination campaign of European Jews, in which approximately 200,000 Lithuanian Jews were massacred. Many countries chose to close their borders to the Jewish people, only Japan agreed to open their border, but stated they must obtained the legal documents to leave the country from their government and had enough money to cover their travel expenses. (“Conspiracy of Kindness”, 40:12). Once the news spread, thousands of refugees swamped the Japanese consulate and implored Sugihara for help, hoping for a chance to escape their fate. (Figure 2.) Against the directives from his foreign ministry, Sugihara agreed to help the refugees and issued hundreds of hand written transit visas to the refugees a day, continuously, for two weeks. Sugihara’s passion to help had touched and calmed the refugees. As his wife, Yukiko Sugihara, mentioned, “ I remembered a few people were catching our train and shouted, “Thank you Mr.Sugihara, thank you very much, we will see you soon in Japan.”, I was really touched by my husband’s action. I could not help myself from crying” (“Conspiracy of Kindness”, 49.16) Sugihara’s kindness had given those refugees hope to stay alive. After Sugihara passed away in 1986, a memorial was crafted by Ramon G. Velazco in 2002 and funded by Neman Foundation and Levy Affiliated Holding, LLC. This sculpture serves to honor Sugihara for his heroic act of kindness, resulted in saving thousands of Jewish from the brutalities of war. In order to examine how Sugihara’s memorial has affected the public, the writer interviewed two Japanese international students, Hiroki Kasama and Shintaro Kambe. According to Kasama, he believed that Sugihara was different from the Japanese soldiers. He added, “Japanese soldiers were cruel to the refugees during WW II, but Sugihara helped the refugees instead. I feel proud of Sugihara’s action” (Kasama). Kambe concurred with Kasama’s statement and stated that, he was amazed by Sugihara’s heroic action and it has motivated him to be a better person (Kambe). Kasama and Kambe later revealed that Sugihara’s memorial did more than just honor him. The memorial has had an actual impact on the public, especially the younger generations of Japanese.