LOS ANGELES — The Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and 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, will co-sponsor a special presentation by Dr. Meline Mesropyan of Tohoku University (Japan) speaking on 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.
The program will take place on September 17, at 7 p.m. at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, 3325 N. Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
Mesropyan’s presentation will focus 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 Apcar’s enormous support. Through her crucial assistance they were able to go to the US and other final destinations. This talk focuses on how being a single woman in Japan, she could overcome various problems she faced in carrying out her humanitarian work.
Mesropyan will be joined by the great-granddaughter of Diana Apcar, Mimi Malayan. In 2018, 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).
Dr. Meline Mesropyan was born and raised in Yerevan and initially earned her bachelor’s degree in Japanese linguistics. She graduated in March 2019 from the Graduate School of International Culture at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. She has spent the last six years as a Master’s and PhD student researching the life and work of Diana Apcar. Her PhD dissertation, written in Japanese and making extensive use of Japanese archival data, deals with the Japanese government’s processing of Armenian refugees during World War I and Diana Apcar’s role. She lives in Sendai and is currently in the process of developing her PhD dissertation into a book on the life of Diana Apcar.