A special presentation on the legacy of Diana Apcar, the first Armenian Ambassador to Japan, was held at the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. The event was co-sponsored by the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, supported by the Little Tokyo Service Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were the Honorable Paul Krekorian, Councilmember of the City of Los Angeles, His Excellency Akira Muto, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles, His Excellency Shigeru Kikuma, Consul of Japan in Los Angeles, the Honorable Timothy R. Saito, Superior Court Judge of Los Angeles, the Honorable Judge Adrienne Krikorian, Chair of the Diocesan Council, Her Excellency Rui Matsukawa, Member of the House of Councillors of Japan, Daren Rikio Mooko, Interim President and CEO of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Ms. Jennifer Usyak, Advisor to the Consulate General of Japan as well as representatives of Armenian organizations and other distinguished guests.
Dr. Meline Mesropyan, Researcher of Tohoku University’s (Japan) Graduate School of International Cultural Studies spoke about the legacy of Diana Apcar, who lived in Japan from 1891-1937 and is known for her major impact on Japan-Armenia relations and aid to Armenian refugees.
Dr. Mesropyan’s presentation focused on Diana Agabeg Apcar’s (1859–1937) humanitarian work. Between 1915 and the late 1920s, about 1500 out of several hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees managed to reach Japan where they found Ms. Apcar’s enormous support. Through her crucial assistance they were able to ultimately find their way to the United States of America and other destinations. This talk focused on how being a single woman in Japan, she could overcome various problems she faced in carrying out her humanitarian work.
Dr. Mesropyan was joined by the great-granddaughter of Diana Apcar, Ms. Mimi Malayan. In 2018, Ms. Malayan released a documentary on the life of Diana Apcar entitled “Stateless Diplomat,” which has won several awards including the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award (Arpa International Film Festival, 2019), Best Biographical Film (New Hope Film Festival, July 2019), and Audience Choice for Best Documentary (Pomegranate Film Festival, November 2018).
As a token of his gratitude for the noble undertaking of honoring a distinguished figure in Armenian history, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian presented a unique cross stone to Consul General Muto, celebrating the friendship of the Armenian and Japanese communities.