About 500 people took part in a ceremony in the Lithuanian capital on May 3 to plant Japanese ‘sakura’ cherry blossom trees to remember Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who saved thousands of Jewish refugees from the Nazis by issuing them transit visas, reports Associated Press. The participants planted 50 sakura trees, called ‘Jindo No Sakura’ - the cherry blossoms of humanity, in Chiune Sugihara Park in Vilnius during the ceremony, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties between Lithuania and Japan. Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas said the ‘sakura’ planting was not only for friendship and peace between the two countries, but also in remembrance of the victims of the March 11 massive earthquake and tsunami which devastated northeastern and eastern Japan. Sugihara, as an acting consul in the then-Lithuanian capital Kaunas, issued transit visas even though the Japanese Foreign Ministry told him not to do so, and as a result saved 6,000 Jews from the Holocaust. He died at the age of 86, in 1986.
Seimas will soon entertain a new draft law on animal welfare and protection, reports ELTA. “We think that the presence of domestic animals, millions of which live in the European Union (EU), when their welfare is not regulated by law, cause additional problems both to people and the animals themselves, as well as pose extra risk,” MP Petras Austrevicius said at a May 6 seminar titled ‘Welfare of Animals in the Baltic Region: Responsible Keeping and Good Practice.’ The draft law will for the first time clearly define the competence of public institutions in this field. It is planned that the Ministry of Agriculture will form the animal welfare policy; the competence of local governments in this field will also be strengthened. The draft law clearly defines what cruelty to animals is; it also includes what responsibility a pet owner undertakes. The draft law also speaks about treatment of circus animals, animals used for entertainment and exhibitions. The new draft law is expected to be adopted in autumn. Adolfo Sansolini, international animal welfare consultant who also took part in the conference, added that the EU still does not have a common animal tracing and identification system.