Evidence Emerges of ‘Second Japanese Schindler’ Who Rescued Jews From Nazi Persecution

A visa issued by former Japanese diplomat Saburo Nei, dated February 28, 1941, and found in April 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Akira Kitade.

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.” 8, 2020 4:52 PM

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.


Leave a Reply