Virtual Program: Celebrating July 29, 2021 ‘Sugihara Visas Day’ Resolution designated by the California Legislature

The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, American Jewish Committee-Los Angeles, and Japanese American Cultural and Community Center will co-sponsor a virtual program supported by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, commemorating July 29, 2021 Sugihara Visas Day, designated by the California Legislature to memorialize the great achievements of Chiune Sugihara in saving thousands of Jewish lives during World War II.
The program will be streamed on July 29, 2021 at 5pm PDT, and will thereafter be available on-demand. The program will include remarks by elected officials, a presentation by Sugihara House in Kaunas, Lithuania and a special piece created especially for the occasion by JACCC Master Artist in Residence Hirokazu Kosaka.
The resolution, which passed both chambers of the California Legislature unanimously, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg and principally co-authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. Please view proceedings on the State Senate floor here (19:18-28:00).
In 1939, Chiune Sugihara became a vice consul of the newly opened Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. Soon after Sugihara's posting at the Kaunas consulate, World War II erupted, and a large number of Jewish refugees from Poland had gathered at the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas seeking transit visas that would allow them to pass through Japan and seek refuge in other countries. On July 29, 1940, Sugihara began issuing the transit visas, which came to be known as “visas for life.” The visa list from the Kaunas consulate that exists today contains nearly 2,140 names, but because family members were also allowed entry with a single visa granted to the head of a household, and because some visas were issued without being noted on the list, the number of lives saved is thought to be much higher.