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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 217 (January 12, 2006)
Subject: Visit to Turkey
Junichiro Koizumi here.
A Happy New Year to all of you.
The first installment of this year's e-mail magazine comes to you directly from Turkey, a country straddling the continents of Europe and Asia. Since January 9 I have been visiting Turkey, which is a great distance away geographically but is a country that has a very friendly and positive relationship with Japan. Japan and Turkey share countless episodes of friendship.
In 1890, a mission of roughly 650 people headed by Special Envoy of the Ottoman Empire Osman Pasa, which landed in Yokohama after a 11-month sea voyage, completed its goodwill visit to Japan, including an audience with Emperor Meiji, and was heading back home. On the return voyage, the Frigate Ertugrul was swept by a typhoon and with the crew still on board sank in the coast off Wakayama Prefecture. It was a catastrophic incident in which several hundred people died.
When this tragedy occurred, the people in the area made earnest rescue efforts. The 69 survivors were then graciously escorted to the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) by Japanese navy cruisers. Afterwards, a memorial has been built in Kushimoto Town, Wakayama Prefecture, and a memorial ceremony has been held every five years.
Ninety-five years later in 1985, amid the bombing offensive on Tehran at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, it was Turkey that rescued the Japanese nationals living in Tehran who were trying to escape from that city.
Japan did not have regularly scheduled flights to Tehran, and it was feared that Japanese nationals did not stand a chance of escaping from Tehran and crossing the Iranian border. The desperate calls for help by Japanese Embassy staff and other Japanese people stationed there reached across the border to Turkey, and the Government of Turkey dispatched a special flight to Tehran for the rescue of Japanese nationals. The special flight crossed the Iran-Turkey border barely before the time limit at which Iraq declared that it would attack aircraft, stating "all aircraft in Iran's airspace would be targets of attack." It is said that the passengers broke out in cheers when the pilot announced, "welcome to Turkey."
I am deeply moved by the resolve of the Turkish Government and the people of Turkish Airlines who helped to rescue the Japanese nationals in the midst of this tense international situation, heedless of the danger they were putting themselves in.
The pilot Ali Ozdemir is still alive and well. When I meet him today, I would like to once again express our appreciation.>
At the time of the major earthquakes in Turkey in 1999, Japan, both the public and private sectors, extended assistance to help with the country's reconstruction from the disaster. It is still fresh in my memory that as part of this assistance, a number of provisional housing units utilized in the aftermath of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake were sent to the disaster-affected areas in Turkey.
During my meetings with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan we confirmed the unfailing friendship between our two countries and had frank and candid discussions on the cooperation between Japan and Turkey towards the Middle East peace process and reconstruction assistance in Iraq. I intend to make sure that this serves as an opportunity to further enhance the friendly relationship between Japan and Turkey.
The record snowfalls since the end of last year have been causing immense damage across Japan. Including the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) for snow removal, the Government will take prompt response measures.
I am resolved to make every effort to fulfill my responsibility as Prime Minister for the full remainder of my term this year. I ask for the understanding and cooperation of the people of Japan in these endeavors.
I sincerely hope that this year will be a fruitful and fulfilling year for all of you.