By Anna Vardanyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
Nowadays, interest in Eiichi Shibusawa, as a unique, exemplary entrepreneur does not stop in Japan․ He founded more than 500 enterprises operating in Japan, carried out diplomatic and charitable activities, and made a major contribution to the development of the Japanese economy at the time. However, until about a decade ago nobody knew about the ties between Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931) and the Armenian nation.
In fact, he was the head of “Armeniya-Nippon” Armenian-Japanese Scientific and Cultural Union. More has been discovered about him thanks to the efforts of historian and independent researcher at the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Vicken Babkenian.
During the Armenian Genocide, Japan sent aid to the refugees.
In an effort to internationalize the efforts of the US-based Near East Relief, which was a fund helping Armenian refugees after the Genocide, Rev. Dr. Lincoln L. Wirt, an American Congregational minister and a Red Cross commissioner during World War I, was given the mission to establish branches of the Near East Relief among the Pacific nations, one of which was Japan. He succeeded in establishing a general committee in Japan and the Armenian relief movement began to gain momentum. Wirt was invited to the Imperial Bank. As Babkenian notes, Shibusawa was also present at this meeting.