Japanese diplomat Saburo Nei issued lifesaving visas for Jews escaping persecution from Nazi Germany to pass through Japan.
By Algemeiner Staff
Evidence has emerged of a second Japanese diplomat who provided visas to European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, raising the prospect that further undiscovered heroes are waiting to be recognized.
Saburo Nei — who served as Imperial Japan’s consul-general in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok during World War II — issued transit visas for Jews escaping persecution from Nazi Germany to pass through Japan.
Nei is now being compared to the diplomat dubbed the “Japanese Schindler” — Chiune Sugihara, who provided hundreds of visas to Jews in Lithuania, where he was stationed.
Akira Kitade — a Tokyo-based journalist who has extensively researched Japanese efforts to help Jews during the Nazi era — told The Mainichi daily newspaper that it was important for “people to know that there were Japanese diplomats other than Mr. Sugihara who saved Jewish people.”
Records found in Moscow indicate that Nei, who was stationed in Vladivostok in 1941, issued travel documents to Jews who had escaped from eastern Europe by taking the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Pacific port city, from where they attempted to reach a third country. It was believed, however, that none of the visas had survived.
“A friend who is a Holocaust researcher in Philadelphia contacted me to say that someone had found a document and they were not sure what it was because it was written in Japanese,” Kitade said. “As soon as I saw the name, I realized that this was a visa issued by Nei in Vladivostok — and I knew that it was a very important discovery.”
After the war, Nei reportedly never talked about having issued the visas, or about the diplomatic climate at the time. He passed away in 1992.