Japan’s deputy foreign minister pledged on Tuesday to strengthen ties with Türkiye as 2024 will mark the 100th year of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
“I sincerely congratulate the reelection of the president (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) supported by the majority of the people in such an important year as the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic (of Türkiye),” Yamada Kenji told Anadolu as he was in the Turkish capital to attend Erdogan’s oath-taking ceremony.
“I know that the friendly relationship between the two countries will strengthen with the reelection of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” he said, adding that he also intended to further boost ties.
Yamada said Turkish people have long been known to be fond of Japan, which in 1890 made a great effort to save sailors and officers on the Ottoman frigate Ertugrul as it sunk off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture on its way back home from a goodwill voyage to Japan.
The incident, considered the starting point of relations between the Turks and Japanese, resulted in the loss of 533 sailors and officers, including a rear admiral.
Japanese villagers in Kashinozaki, near the site of the shipwreck, rescued 69 Turkish sailors. The survivors were later transported back to Istanbul aboard the Japanese corvettes Kongo and Hiej.
Yamada also noted that during the Iran-Iraq War, Japanese citizens trapped in Tehran were evacuated on a Turkish Airlines plane in 1985.
This rescue operation, launched on the orders of Türkiye’s then-President Turgut Ozal, has not been forgotten by Japan, he said.
Friendship strengthened via mutual assistance
After the 2011 earthquake that shook Japan, Türkiye immediately sent an emergency rescue team that would stay for one of the longest periods among foreign crews, Yamada said, adding that when an earthquake occurs in Türkiye, “we also actively support the country.”
“We strengthened our friendly relations through mutual assistance,” he said, noting that he had visited southern Türkiye after the massive Feb. 6 earthquakes.
Yamada once again expressed his condolences for the more than 50,000 lives the earthquakes claimed and said that after news of the disaster arrived, “we quickly deployed our international emergency rescue, medical team, and experts and tried to contribute to the reconstruction efforts.”
Noting that he had the opportunity to meet earthquake victims during his visit to Kahramanmaras province, the epicenter of the earthquakes, Yamada said Japan would also support reconstruction efforts in the region.
Many people were also killed in and injured in two major earthquakes that occurred in Japan in 1995 and 2011, he said, adding that Japan had overcome many disasters through the years, including earthquakes. “We share similar experiences with the Turkish people.”
On a Turkish-Japanese Science and Technology University recently established in Istanbul, Yamada said he was briefed at all stages of the opening process and that he expects mutual contacts in various fields to increase further.
Drawing attention to the rise of the number of Japanese companies operating in Türkiye to over 250, Yamada underlined that he was pleased with the two countries stepping up their relations, upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2013, including in the fields of economy, culture, and education.