US

After 75 years, researchers help ID photos of WWII refugees saved by Japanese tourism official

  • FILE - In this July 26, 2010 file photo, Akira Kitade holds a photo album that belonged to a former colleague of his at the  Japan Tourist Bureau, Tatsuo Osako, during an interview in Tokyo. The page displayed holds seven photos given to Osako by people whom Osako helped escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Kitade, with the help of researchers in Japan and the U.S., has identified four of the seven people this year. A fifth was identified independently in 2014. Kitade met recently in the New York City area with descendants of three of the refugees who have been identified. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

    FILE - In this July 26, 2010 file photo, Akira Kitade holds a photo album that belonged to a former colleague of his at the Japan Tourist Bureau, Tatsuo Osako, during an interview in Tokyo. The page displayed holds seven photos given to Osako by people whom Osako helped escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Kitade, with the help of researchers in Japan and the U.S., has identified four of the seven people this year. A fifth was identified independently in 2014. Kitade met recently in the New York City area with descendants of three of the refugees who have been identified. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 26, 2010 file photo, Akira Kitade displays a photo album that belonged to a former colleague of his at the  Japan Tourist Bureau, Tatsuo Osako, during an interview in Tokyo. The page in the foreground holds seven photos given to Osako by people whom Osako helped escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Kitade, with the help of researchers in Japan and the U.S., has identified four of the seven people this year. A fifth was identified independently in 2014. Kitade met recently in the New York City area with descendants of three of the refugees who have been identified. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

    FILE - In this July 26, 2010 file photo, Akira Kitade displays a photo album that belonged to a former colleague of his at the Japan Tourist Bureau, Tatsuo Osako, during an interview in Tokyo. The page in the foreground holds seven photos given to Osako by people whom Osako helped escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Kitade, with the help of researchers in Japan and the U.S., has identified four of the seven people this year. A fifth was identified independently in 2014. Kitade met recently in the New York City area with descendants of three of the refugees who have been identified. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • This undated picture provided by Akira Kitade from an album owned by Tatsuo Osako, a former colleague of Kitade's at the Japan Tourist Bureau, shows a woman and an accompanying message on the back signed by Marie, reading "avec tous mes sentiments" in French, or "with all my affections."  Osako's album contained seven photos given to him by people he helped to escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Five of them have been identified, but a former employee of Osako, who died in 2003, is still trying to identify the woman in this photo. (Akira Kitade via AP)

    This undated picture provided by Akira Kitade from an album owned by Tatsuo Osako, a former colleague of Kitade's at the Japan Tourist Bureau, shows a woman and an accompanying message on the back signed by Marie, reading "avec tous mes sentiments" in French, or "with all my affections." Osako's album contained seven photos given to him by people he helped to escape from Europe in the early days of World War II. Five of them have been identified, but a former employee of Osako, who died in 2003, is still trying to identify the woman in this photo. (Akira Kitade via AP)  (The Associated Press)

An American-Japanese team of researchers has identified four of the seven European refugees in decades-old photographs given to a Japanese tourism official who helped rescue them during World War II.

Descendants of three of the seven met this week in the New York City area with Akira Kitade (ah-KEER'-uh kih-TAH'-day), who has written a book about the late Tatsuo Osako (taht-SOO'-oh oh-SAH'-koh) and the seven people in the photos, who include four Jews, one gentile and two women whose identities and religion remains unknown.

Osako was a tourism bureau clerk who received the photos from seven grateful refugees he assisted during arduous voyages from a Russian Pacific port to Japan in 1940 and 1941.

Kitade tracked down some of the descendants with the help of another Japanese researcher and Mark Halpern, a genealogy buff from Pennsylvania.