The Courage to Remember: Anne Frank and Sugihara Chiune Come to Osaka


Japan is home to a relatively small number of Jews. With only a handful of synagogues scattered across the country’s main cities, serving a Jewish population thought to number just several thousand, the ties between the Japanese and the global Jewish community remain low-key.

There are efforts underway to deepen these ties, though. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in Los Angeles, has been organizing cultural outreach and educational events to boost the Japanese public’s interest in the faith and history of the Jewish people. The latest such event, titled “The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1939–1945,” is taking place right now in Osaka.

A Traveling Show to Deepen Understanding

Subtitled “The Bravery of Anne Frank and Chiune Sugihara,” this event shines a spotlight on two individuals who figured largely in the history of the Jews, and who are well-known in Japan. Sugihara Chiune, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania during World War II, ignored state policy and issued thousands of transit visas to Jews fleeing Nazi-controlled Europe, saving their lives. He was named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1985, a year before his death; it would not be until 1991, though, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs restored his honor with a posthumous reinstatement. A 2015 film about his life brought him fresh fame in his home country.

Anne Frank, meanwhile, is well known to young Japanese readers, who commonly encounter her diary in translation as part of the school curriculum. Reproductions of handwritten pages from her diary are on display at the Osaka exhibition, along with other exhibits that shed light on her experiences during her brief life and the years of it she spent in hiding.

The event also presents the history of the Holocaust through some 40 panels of photographs and other items selected from the collection at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. A third exhibition segment focuses on human rights issues up through the present day, with photos sketching the struggle by women, minorities, the disabled, children, and other groups to gain full respect as members of their societies.

Future Stops in Kobe, Kanazawa

“The Courage to Remember” is cosponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Sōka University. See the university website for information in Japanese. This traveling exhibition runs through Monday, July 2, at the Umedahigashi Community Hall in Kita Ward, Osaka; future stops are listed below.

Osaka (June 30–July 2)

  • Umedahigashi Community Hall
  • 10:00–20:00 daily
  • Map

Kobe (July 12–22)

  • Kansai International Culture Center
  • 10:00–17:00 daily (11:00–17:00 on July 12; open until 20:00 on Saturdays)
  • Map

Kanazawa (July 26–31)

  • Kanazawa Ryūtsū Kaikan
  • 10:00–20:00 daily (13:00–20:00 on July 26)
  • Map

(Originally written in English. Banner photo courtesy the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Sōka University.)

history Sugihara Chiune Anne Frank Simon Wiesenthal Center