The statue of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara on Central Avenue at Second Street in Little Tokyo was cleaned on Thursday in advance of a special tribute performance on Friday night in Beverly Hills. Volunteering at the clean-up were (from left): Oliver Guss; Abdullah Hall, artistic director, TransChorus of L.A.; Johnny Buckingham; Peter Samuelson; and Noam Shimashita.

George Takei and fellow actor/activist Anne Marie Johnson, joined by the Man/Kind Project and the Los Angeles TransChorus, presented “HERO: Chiune Sugihara” at the Saban Theatre with actors Elliott Gould, Emily Kuroda, Alan Rosenberg and Greg Watanabe.

Elements of the Sugihara saga resonate today as the U.S. government grapples with the issue of immigrants seeking refuge and asylum at the southern border. Sugihara is credited with saving more than 2,000 Jewish refugees in the early days of World War II by issuing Japanese transit visas that allowed them to escape Lithuania ahead of the Nazis. An inscription from the Talmud at the base of the statue reads: “He who saves one life saves the entire world.”

Photo by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

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