The Canadian Premier of the movie ‘Persona Non Grata’ was held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s 5th annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival on June 12.
A film by director Cellin Gluck brings to light a little-known historical fact about a Japanese diplomat who issued 2,139 exit visas for 6,000 Jews who were attempting to flee Poland from Lithuania.
Chiune Sempo Sugihara is often referred to as the “Japanese Schindler,” he only did what was right out of compassion, even though he knew it would shame him and his family for life.
“I just did what human beings should do. You do the right thing… not for gain. Not for recognition. The refugees needed my help. I could give it to them. It was the right thing to do. That’s all.” Chiune Sempo Sugihara.
Based on the book “Fugu Plan”: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During WWII,” by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz.
The novel was based on the following – Tokayer was an American Air Force Chaplain in Japan – Japan was planning to resettle a million Jewish refugees in Manchuria based on the idea that the refugees represented some of the top doctors, lawyers, teachers and industrialists – as well as the best society that would help enrich Japan.
Although Sugihara was sent to a consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1939 – he was stationed there to gather Soviet and German intelligence in the area, but became one of the crucial players in the ‘Fugu Plan.’
Part thriller – part history, the movie entitled Persona Non Grata shows the life of a man who risked it all, knowing he would be persecuted for what he had done, but went above all things evil and helped thousands flee the ravishes of a war torn society.