Gifu: Ambassador’s kendo strike a mark of friendship

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Lithuania’s Ambassador to Japan Aurelijus Zykas strikes the headgear of his opponent at a kendo hall in Kani, Gifu Prefecture.

GIFU — Lithuania’s Ambassador to Japan Aurelijus Zykas visited Gifu Prefecture and took part in kendo on Aug. 4.

The town of Yaotsu is the birthplace of Chiune Sugihara (1900-86), a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania, who issued “visas for life” to Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution in Poland via Lithuania during World War II.

There is a memorial hall in the town to commemorate Sugihara, and the town government has been in contact with Lithuania for many years. Zykas said it was his seventh visit. At the town hall, he exchanged views with Mayor Masanori Kaneko and others on issues such as the Ukrainian crisis.

Prior to this, the ambassador visited a kendo hall in the nearby city of Kani, where he personally took a shinai bamboo sword and hit the opponent’s head gear.

“This was my first experience with kendo, but it felt good,” he said.