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

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.