Diana Abgar (1859-1937) - The World's First Female Ambassador
Diana Hovhannes Abgar (Abgaryan) - Armenian writer, publicist and diplomat, author of nine books on the Armenian Genocide. Being appointed as the diplomatic representative and Consul General of Armenia in Japan on July 21, 1920, she became the first woman ambassador in the world.
Diana Aghabek (Anahit Aghabekyan) was born on October 12, 1859 in Burma (modern Myanmar). She belonged to the Aghabekyan family, whose ancestors were deported to Persia from Dzhugha during the mass resettlement of Armenians by order of Shah Abbas in 1604-1605.
Later, her parents emigrated to India. After graduating from the seminary, where she received an excellent English education, she married a wealthy Armenian merchant Mikael Abgar (Abgaryan). The marriage ceremony took place on June 18, 1889 in Hong Kong.
After marriage, the young family settled in Japan, in the port city of Kobe, on the Pacific coast. There they founded a company dealing with the export and import of goods. They also owned the "Great Eastern Hotel". It was in Japan, that Diana took up literary activities.
After the sudden death of her husband in 1906, Diana continued her activities in the literary field, at the same time taking over the management of the company until her son came of age. After moving with her children to the port city of Yokohama, she opened another trading house that did business with China, Europe and the United States.
A few years later, Diana was offered a job in the protocol department of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Soon she became a prominent figure in diplomatic circles.
On the eve of the First World War and during the war, Diana Abgar gave lectures on the Armenian people, wrote articles, collaborated with the English-language newspapers of Yokohama - "The Japan Gazette" and "Far East". In the second decade of the 20th century, thanks to the Japan Newspaper publishing house, 8 novels by Diana Abgar were published in English.
What were her books all about? About the Armenians under the Ottomans. About how hard it is not just to live, but to survive, being under the yoke of a stranger, living every day and every hour in fear for your family, your relatives and for all Armenians. How terrible it is to live, knowing that tomorrow you can be kicked out of the house or even killed.
Diana was one of the few who at the beginning of the 20th century raised the issue of the Armenian Genocide and contributed to making it relevant in the context of the world agenda. Being a patriot of Armenian people, she tried in practice to be useful to her compatriots and Armenia, where she had never been.
Diana Abgar helped numerous Armenian refugees in every possible way, who, through Siberia and Japan, sought to move to the USA and Canada. She appealed to the strong and influential people of this world for the salvation of the Armenian nation.
As a result of her activities, in 1918 Japan officially recognized the independence of the First Republic of Armenia, and Diana Abgar was solemnly appointed as the Ambassador of Armenia to Japan. Thus, she became the first woman in the world to hold a diplomatic post.
Catholicos of All Armenians Gevorg, appreciating the activities of Diana Abgar, in 1926 honored her with a special decree. Throughout her life, Diana Abgar was a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and until the end of her life she maintained contact with Echmiadzin.
Diana Abgar died at the age of 67 on July 8, 1937 in Yokohama, where she was buried in the cemetery for foreigners, next to her husband. At the moment, Abgar's grave is under the patronage of the Armenian-Japanese Friendship Society in Tokyo.