Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese government official who served as vice consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During the Second World War, Sugihara helped some six thousand Jews flee Europe by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory, risking his job and his family's lives. The fleeing Jews were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. A few decades after the war, in 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions. He is the only Japanese national to have been so honored.
Sugihara told the refugees to call him "Sempo" – the Sino-Japanese reading of the Japanese characters of his given name – as it was easier for non-Japanese persons to pronounce.