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In order to commemorate Chiune Sugihara, former Japanese consul in Lithuania, who is recognized as Righteous among the Nations, events and Lithuania Festival were held in Yaotsu Town on July 31st – August 7th. 

During the Opening Ceremony of the event the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Masanori Kaneko, the Mayor of Yaotsu Town and Inga Pukelytė, the Member of Kaunas City Council, the Chair of the Committee of Education.

“The memory of Chiune Sugihara strongly connected Kaunas and Yaotsu cities, consolidated Japanese and Lithuanian people to work together for a noble purpose - to preserve the memory of Japanese diplomat for future generations. This year we are celebrating 25 years anniversary of Lithuanian-Japanese diplomatic relations and we are happy to have sincere communication with Japanese people and friendly relations between our states” – said Violeta Gaižauskaitė, Chargé d'Affaires a.i., Minister Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuanian in Japan, during the welcoming speech for participants of the commemoration.

“Our friendship blooms as great as cherry blossoms in spring at Sugihara’s Memorial Garden in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania” – said the diplomat.

The Governor of Gifu Prefecture Hajime Furuta and the Mayor of the Yaotsu Town Masanori Kaneko highlighted the importance of recent visits of Lithuanian representatives to the hometown of Chiune Sugihara as well as close cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the developing of a number of joint projects.

The Former Director-General of UNESCO Koichiro Matura thanked Lithuania for the support to Japan’s proposal to include the list of Chiune Sugihara issued visas for Jews, who were trying to escape to Japan from Nazi persecution, in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Fumiko Ishioka, the lecturer of NPO Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center, introduced Chiune Sugihara’s accomplishments and brought to life stories of people he saved.

The discussion about the world peace and human rights was held among elementary, junior high and high school students. Inga Pukelytė, the chair of the Committee of Education and Culture, shared her experience and insights on this important topic with Japanese students.

In order to commemorate Chiune Sugihara’s wife Yukiko, which was a big lover of Tanka Poem, the Chiune Sugihara commemoration event held Tanka Poem Tournament and Award Ceremony. Yaotsu Town Hall and streets were full of live traditional Japanese music and works of Lithuanian composers, photos about Lithuania were exhibited.

Yaotsu Town dwellers and guests were interested in publications about Lithuania in Japanese, Lithuanian works of linen, wood, amber, and had an opportunity to taste traditional Lithuanian food, which was presented by the Japanese-Lithuanian Exchange Center.

By the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to Japan
https://jp.mfa.lt/jp/en/news/memory-of-chiune-sugihara-connected-japanese-and-lithuanian-cities-and-people-