Parliamentary Committee Approves Funding to Keep Sugihara House Open

Parliamentary Committee Approves Funding to Keep Sugihara House Open

On August 5 the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian parliament approved the idea of providing the Sugihara House in Kaunas 150,000 euros annually to keep the museum open.

This followed a plea by museum director Ramūnas Janulaitis, appointed in the wake of the death of the museum’s founder and director Simonas Dovidavičius in December of 2019, for help maintaining the museum after a steep reduction in tourist visits because of the virus panic and the Ukrainian war.

Ambassadors from Japan, Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland to Lithuania responded to the plea with a joint letter to Lithuania’s minister for culture and minister for science, education and sports. In their letter they said Chiune Sugihara’s legacy was important for building democracy, tolerance and human values.

Litvak member of Lithuanian parliament and committee member Emanuelis Zingeris said at the sitting of the committee: “Due to the pandemic the flow of people has kept diminishing, and this is how they stay open, they’ve never really had any support from the state. They need about 150,000 euros of support annually. This is such a small thing and we really should support the memorial house of Chiune Sugihara, the brightest humanitarian and Righteous Gentile.”

Committee chairwoman Laima Andrikienė noted the Sugihara House museum had received about 20,000 tourists from Japan per year before the virus panic, but now the number had “dramatically diminished, to about one thousand per year.”

The Foreign Affairs Committee approved a protocol resolution to support the operations of the Sugihara Foundation/Diplomats for Life to keep the museum running.

Committee member Arminas Lydeka pointed out the ambassadors had sent their letter to ministers, and that the speaker of parliament had forwarded it to the Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration, but that the Government would have to make the decision on funding.

MP Antanas Vinkus said: “I think all of us here approve and it doesn’t really matter in what form we received the letter from the Foreign Affairs Committee, it just needs to be recorded officially in two or three sentences that we got this letter and we agree with it.”

A presidential aide at the committee meeting said the Sugihara House museum needed permanent funding by the state.

Full story in Lithuanian here.