YEREVAN (Armenian Weekly)—This week, the Yerevan Municipal Council announced that a park will be named in honor of Diana Apcar, the First Republic of Armenia’s Honorary Consul to Japan.
The idea was proposed by Yerevan City Council members Gayaneh Melkom Melkomian and Grigor Yeritsyan. The decision, which was made on October 8, went into effect the following day. This news comes days before the 160th anniversary of Apcar’s birth.
The park chosen to be named after Apcar is located at the intersection of Sarian, Puzant, Karen Demirchyan, and Mashtots streets – an area considered in a central area in Yerevan.
"It is beyond [a] doubt that she has her worthwhile place among the leading figures of the First Armenian Republic,” noted Melkomian during her introduction of the bill during the city council meeting.
"I am ecstatic! It is so well-deserved,” said Mimi Malayan, Apcar’s great-granddaughter. "Diana is such a significant part of Armenian history. I’m so happy that her contribution to Armenia and the Armenian people is being recognized.”
Although there are select streets in Yerevan named after prominent Armenian women – including a small street named after writer Zabel Yessayan – Apcar is the first female historical figure to have a park, in Yerevan, named in her honor.
"Today, Diana Apcar finally comes to Yerevan, the capital she was appointed to represent in Japan,” said Historian Khatchig Mouradian, a professor at Columbia University. "This extraordinary woman lived for Armenia and its people, was appointed the First Armenian Republic’s honorary consul without having set foot in the country, and was buried thousands of miles away in Yokohama in 1937, decades before Armenia regained its independence.”
"I hope Apcar’s arrival ushers in an era where more streets and parks are named after women leaders, scientists and artists,” Mouradian added.
Yerevan City Council member Gayaneh Melkom Melkomian introducing the proposal
Born on October 17, 1859, in Rangoon, India, Diana Aghabegian was a leading figure of Armenian history as an author, advocate for Armenian rights, diplomat, and humanitarian. Her books include "Susan,” and "Home Stories of the War” – a short-story collection published in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War and dedicated to the Japanese people.
Diana married Apcar Michael Apcar in 1889, and moved to Japan a year later. After six years of marriage, Apcar Michael Apcar passed away. They had five children, two of whom died.
Diana took on the responsibility of caring for her children and running her husband’s businesses, all the while engaging in correspondence with hundreds of world leaders and intellectuals, raising awareness and calling for action to stop the massacres committed against her people in the Ottoman Empire.
"There is no one in the Far East who has worked as you have in the interests of our newly established republic and towards alleviating the troubles and sufferings of our fellow countrymen,” wrote Hamo Ohanjanyan, the third Prime Minister of the First Armenian Republic, to Diana Apcar on July 22, 1920. "Therefore, I have appointed you honorary Consul of Armenia in Japan, and I hope that you will not refuse to accept this onerous office for the benefit of our newly-established Republic.”
Although Diana graciously accepted the honor, the Republic of Armenia fell to the Soviet Red Army later that year, losing its independence.
Last year, Apcar’s great-granddaughter released a documentary titled, "The Stateless Diplomat: Diana Apcar’s Heroic Life.”