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Diana Abgar. First Ambassador and Consul General of Armenia in Japan.

In 1920 Diana Abgar was appointed consul general of the Republic of Armenia in Japan and became the first female ambassador in the east to occupy a diplomatic position. Abgar wrote books, editorials and appeals for her country in several languages and during the Armenian genocide, she helped a number of Armenian refugees, who through Siberia and Japan were moving to the USA. In Vladivostok about 500 Armenians were gathered, most of them moved to the USA with Diana Abgar’s help…



In 18th century her ancestors moved from Nakhichevan to Persia, and her father – Hovhannes Aghabek with his parents moved from Persia to India. Her mother was of Tadevos Avetum family who origins come from Shiraz. Diana Abgar, real name Anahit Aghabek (Aghabekyan), was born on October 12, 1859 in Rangun (Myanmar). She was seventh child in the family. After moving to Calcutta, she enters seminary, learns English and Sanskrit, while learning Armenian at home.



In 1889 she marries Hong-Kong merchant Mikhael Abgar (Abgaryan), whose family moved to India from Persia too. Mikhael did family business, one of his ancestors Harutyun Abgar founded “Abgar Trade Company” in Bombay in 1819. Later the company opened a branch in Calcutta and did rice import and export to Singapore and Punjab.



The young family moved to Japan, in Kobe seaport at Pacific Ocean, founds a company for import and export of goods, as well as opens an eastern hotel. In Japan Diana starts her literature career and in 1882 she publishes her first novel “Suzan”, and several years later novel “Storied from fatherland”. Abgaryan family had 5 children, two of which died at young age.



In 1906 Mikhael died and Diana with children moved to Yokohama. After WW1 started, she had lectures on the Armenian people, wrote articled and cooperated with Japanese papers “Japan gazette” and “Far east”. She was one of the first, who proved that Adana massacre of Armenians in 1909 was planned and implemented by constitutional government. Mentioning the duty of international society to save the Armenian people, Diana Abgar wrote of unbearable conditions of Armenians in Ottoman Empire.



During the Armenian Genocide she helped a number of Armenian refugees, who trough Siberia and Japan were moving to the USA. In Vladivostok about 500 Armenians were gathered, most of which moved to the USA with Diana Abgar’s help.



In 1920 with great her great influence Japan recognized Independence of Republic of Armenia. On July 21 1920 she was appointed ambassador and general consul of Armenia to Japan. In Hamo Ohanjanyan ‘s  letter dated July 22, 1920 about her appointment was mentioned: “…to secure interests of our recently-born fatherland, alleviate accommodation of our compatriots. Diana Abgar became firsst Woman Ambassador, who occupied diplomatic position. She was in correspondence with a number of well-known world political and religious leaders, among them US President Woodrow Wilson, secretary Robert Lasing, vise-secretary William Philips, president of humanitarian organization James Burton, members of International Congress Arthur Simons and David Jordan.



All her life she was Armenian Apostolic Christian. In 1920she wrote a letter to head of Armenian Apostolic Church in USA about her life far away from church and her intention to step Armenian church. Catholicos of Armenians Gevorg appreciating her activity, dedicated a special order dedicated to her.



Diana Abgar died on July 8, 1937 in Yokohama, and was buried in cemetery for foreigners beside her husband.  After her death her sons moved to the USA taking all her letters and works with them. Dedicated to Diana Abgar’s 150 anniversary a book was published with her novels in English entitled “Thousand stories”.



P.S.  In 2010 the RA Embassy in Japan organized an evening in honor of the First Armenian Ambassador to Japan Diana Aghabeg Abgar’s inheritors, including her grandchild Michael Abgar and her great-grandchild Denise Abgar.

In the end of the evening, Michael Abgar and his daughter Denise Abgar donated archives to the embassy, including the copy of an official letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Hamo Ohanjanyan dated 1920 July 22 on granting Diana Abgar the title of Honorary Consul and permitting her to hand an exequatur to the Japanese government.



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