Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chiune Sugihara

There's a sculpture in Little Tokyo that's easy to miss or pass over without reading up. It's the likeness of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania during World War II. He's known for saving the lives of thousands of Jewish Lithuanians and Polish refugees by issuing exit visas to get them away from the Nazis.

I overheard some misinformed folks suggesting that the American government helps out countries in times of need more so than any other people. "And who's going to help us when we need help?"

Yes, we give billions of dollars in foreign aid, but when you look at that amount in terms of a percentage of gross national income in comparison with other countries, we rank around number 18. Number one giver...Sweden!

Well, who's to say our assistance helps anyway? We do a lot, we do what we can, and if the topic of giving has to do with Japan, I can't help but think of Mr. Sugihara and his defiance of his Japanese superiors to keep good people safe.

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