Materials in Japanese about Diana Abgar

Materials in Japanese about Diana Abgar


From the editor: – The author of the article, the Japanese historian, translator Daisaku Watanabe has studied at the Department of Cultures and Languages of Asia and Africa of Tokyo University of Foreign Languages. He has attended courses of the Armenian language in Tokyo, Venice and Yerevan. In Tokyo, he has written a Diploma Paper with the subject “The Armenian Society in Raffi’s Novel “The Crazy”. In 2011-2013 Watanabe continued his studies in Armenia. In 2015, there was published his Japanese translation of the book of the American-Armenian historian George Burnutyan“A Concise History of the Armenian People”. He has written the article “Materials in Japanese about Diana Abgar” in Armenian.

The life of the honorary consul of the first Republic of Armenia in Japan Diana Abgar and her activities in Japan has a very important place in the diplomatic history of the two countries – Armenia and Japan.  Until the present time, Armenia and Japan have been far from each other both geographically and psychologically. From this point of view, the existence of Diana Abgar is one of those rare examples with which the histories of these two countries are linked. Besides, from Diana Abgar’s life and activities, we can reveal not only a page from the historical relations of Armenia and Japan, but we can also learn about the situation with the Armenian refugees, who were leaving for America via Japan in those days and about the international situation of that period in which those two countries have appeared.

This means that the study about Diana Abgar is a very attractive subject for the Armenian historians who know Japanese and for the Japanese historians who know Armenian.

Now at our disposal there are some materials in Japanese, which are related to Diana Abgar and which are kept in the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

The first material is a request about the conflict concerning the status of Armenia in the articles of the Treaty of Sevres signed in August 1920, which the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kousai Uchida has sent to the Charges d’Affaires of Japan in France Douichi Matsuda on November 19, 1920. It is written there: “Though there is a clause in the Treaty of Sevres about Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine, that they should have a status of a mandate according to the provisions of the 22nd article of the Covenant of the League of Nations, in the 88th article of the same treaty, there is mentioned that Turkey should recognize Armenia as a free and independent state and though Armenia had applied to get a mandate under the   auspices of America, there isn’t any comment concerning the status of the mandate of Armenia…”.

This material evidences that in that period the government of Japan had focused its attention on Armenia.

The second document is directly related to Diana Abgar. This inner document titled “On Accreditation of the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mansanao Uekusa sent on December 3, 1920 to the Governor of Kanagawa Kousai Inoue. In the beginning there is mentioned: “If a state, which is not in a contractual relationship with the Empire of Japan, wants to send a consul to our territory, the procedure is the following: by means of mutually recognized diplomatic institutions we should make a request upon the intention of our government …. And we have explained this to Mrs. Abgar”. Then from three points of view, they discuss the issues of the recognition of the Republic of Armenia and the acceptation of the Armenian consul. In the beginning, it is written: “As the countries, which have recognized Armenia, treat it as an independent state, there are no grounds to refuse the acceptance of the Armenian consul according to the international law”. But then there is mentioned: “We have reported that before the war Mrs. Diana Abgar has sent circulars to different parties, which the Great states have declared invalid, and we should discuss whether it is true or not”. And at the end there is mentioned: “If according to the 2nd and 4th sections of the 22nd article of the Covenant of the League of Nations Armenia should get a mandate … in that case the issue whether Armenia can send consuls to other countries or no, should be decided by the extent of the country’s custody sponsoring Armenia”. And “We should postpone the acceptance of the consul of the Republic of Armenia until the status of the country is approved”.

The third ratification is about Diana Abgar’s concrete activities. On July 27, 1922, the Governor of Kanagawa Kousai Inoue sent to the Minister of Home Affairs Rentaro Mizuno, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kousai Uchida and to some other governors a document titled “About the Donation to the Armenian Refugee Relief Fund”.  It is mentioned there: “In November 1890 Diana Abgar has come to our country with her husband. For many years, they have been engaged in trade in Kobe. Then she has become a widow. In 1907 she has moved to the Town of Yokohama and again has managed “Abgar” trade house”. In October 1920, she has applied to our government in order to become an honorary consul of the Republic of Armenia but she hasn’t received an approval. However, this woman, being the General President of the Japan branch of the Armenian Association in America and the Vice-President of Christian Youth Association in Yokohama, makes efforts for saving the Armenians, who are leaving for America via Japan”.

These three materials show that in that period the Government of Japan carried out its policy towards Armenia by means of following the samples of the great states. This is evidenced by the first document, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan has made a request to the Charge d’Affaires of Japan in France about the status of Armenia.

Because of the lack of materials about Diana Abgar and because her successors have spread all over the world, there still remain many questions about her, which should be revealed. We wish that the lack were filled by means of cooperation of the Armenian and Japanese researchers.

the material is taken from

Thanks to Artsvi Bakhchinyan for the provision of this material!

translated from Armenian into English by M.Vardanyan