On May 21, 2019, the Government of Japan announced that Mr. Visvaldas Matijošaitis was conferred with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of his contribution to the increase of mutual understanding through commemoration of the deed of Mr. Chiune Sugihara and promotion of inter-regional exchange between Japan and Lithuania.
The details of the conferment are as follows:
- The name and title of the recipient
Visvaldas MATIJOŠAITIS (Refer to the attachment for CV)
Mayor of Kaunas City
- Service for Japan
- Contribution in spreading the achievements of Mr. Chiune Sugihara
Since he was elected as a mayor in April 2015, Mr. Matijošaitis has supported the commemoration of Mr. Chiune Sugihara. In September 2015, he contributed to placing memorial plaques on the wall of Metropolis Hotel, where Mr. Sugihara’s family stayed until his departure after the consulate closed, and the wall of the Kaunas Railway Station, where Mr. Sugihara issued visas until the last minute of his departure. In 2017, in his leadership, the Kaunas city funded about EUR 65,000 for the repair work of the Sugihara Museum’s building. With his activities of educating the younger generation about Mr. Sugihara’s achievements, he made a great effort to encourage a better understanding of Japan through Mr. Sugihara’s humanitarian acts.
- Contribution in promoting bilateral relations between Japan and Lithuania
Mr. Matijosaitis has maintained and strengthened the relationship with local governments in Japan. In 2017, he established the organization “Sugihara Group” with an aim to strengthen the relationship between Kaunas and Japan. In 2017 and 2018, Sugihara Group organized a “Sugihara week” where various events were held to encourage a better understanding of Mr. Sugihara’s achievements and strengthen the friendship between the two countries, and Mr. Matijošaitis as Mayor of Kaunas City played a central role in conducting these events. The event became one of the biggest events in Kaunas where VIPs as well as ordinary citizens participate. During the Prime Minister Abe’s visit in January 2018, he provided great assistance for receiving the head of state in Kaunas, which led to a great success of the visit. Furthermore, he pushed to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship through supporting the signature process of import contacts made by Japanese and Lithuanian companies. In the fields of culture, economy, education and so on, Mr. Matijošaitis has made a considerable effort in developing the relationship with Japan, and his achievement in promoting Japan-Lithuania exchanges is tremendous.