WWII Japanese Envoy’s Son Granted Israel Visa after Intervention

An entry visa was not granted to the son of WWII Japanese envoy Chiune Sugihara, along with his family, over lack of COVID-19 documents. However, on Friday morning, Israel reversed course and permitted them to attend a ceremony scheduled for October 11th. A Jerusalem square is being named after the Japanese diplomat for protecting thousands of Jews in WWII from the Nazis. Living in Belgium, the 72-year old Nobuki Sugihara is Chiune’s son, and on September 28th, he applied for an entry visa via the Israel embassy located in Brussels. The response he received said that his application did not meet the criteria for entering Israel because of the restrictions placed in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, sympathetic Israeli officials intervened and were able to get rid of the bureaucratic obstacles. These included Dani Dayan, the CEO of Yad Vashem, Yigal Palmor, head of Jewish Agency International Relations, Ronen Medzini, spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Japan and Ziv Bilaus, the director of the Consular Division Liaison department of the Foreign Ministry. Eyal Siso, who is a member of the interagency exceptions committee that has been founded for handling appeals to the coronavirus restrictions, eventually ended up signing off.

One of the individuals whose grandfather was saved by Sugihara said that she was relieved to put the embarrassment and injustice behind them. She revealed that she had spoken to bureaucrats about the matter, but none of them were willing to see the bigger picture. It was the officials who understood the moral and historical importance of allowing entry to Sugihara and his family and broke the bureaucratic gridlock. After all, it is an important memorial event aimed at highlighting the actions of Sugihara’s father for saving the life of so many Jews. 

Along with Sughiara’s son, there were four other friends and family members that had had their entry visas rejected, who were Philippe Bergonzo, Oliver Van Loo, Haruka Sugihara and Esin Ayirtman. All of these people had gotten two doses of the vaccine and had provided their vaccination papers. Later, their requests were also accepted. The municipality has organized the ceremony and it is scheduled to happen on October 11th. Moshe Lion, the Jerusalem Mayor, and Koichi Aiboshi, the Japanese ambassador to Israel, will be attending this event. Sugihara thanked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, along with Steinherz and Dayan, via a Facebook post published on Friday. 

The entry visa had been initially denied over a disagreement about who would be handling Sugihara’s health insurance documents and quarantine. Sugihara did not deny that there had been documents missing in his application, but he added that it was the responsibility of the municipality as a host to deal with his entry. Sugihara said that he had provided all but two details. One was about where he would quarantine, should he test positive. He said that it was the host responsibility to guarantee that and not his. He added that he didn’t have friends and family in Israel, who could help him with the quarantine, so the city of Jerusalem should handle it. 

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