Japan

日本 / Japonya

In November 1878, a sloop named Seiki (清輝) of the Japanese Imperial Navy, arrived in Konstantiniyye en route to a training mission in Europe. The envoy was received by Sultan Abdülhamid II and honored with various medals. In 1881, a mission led by diplomat Masaharu Yoshida came to the court Yıldız Palace in an effort to conclude agreements relating to trade and wartime status. Upon the visit of Prince Komatsu Akihito to Istanbul in October 1887 and the presentation of Japan’s highest order, the Order of the Chrysanthemum, to the Sultan, the government of the Ottoman Empire decided to send a ship on a goodwill voyage to Japan in return.

The Ertuğrul frigate, which was in service for 25 years, was overhauled shortly before the voyage, and most of the hull’s wooden parts were renewed. It was instructed to set sail from Konstantiniyye on 14 July 1889, with 607 sailors, including 57 officers, and Captain Ali Osman Bey commanding. The initial route was designed to make various necessary stops on the way. The first stop was planned in Marmaris, and the next one in Port Said before the passage through the Suez Canal. Following the stay in Jeddah, the ship visits Aden, Somalia. Pondicherry and Calcutta (both in British India). After staying in Port Akabod and Singapore, she would carry on to Malacca by way of the Strait of Malacca. Proceeding to the north, the ship would stop by in Saigon and then in some docks in China to arrive in Hong Kong. Amoy and Shanghai would be the last stops before reaching Japan. Finally, after a stay in Nagasaki, the ship would arrive her destination in Yokohama. The return was scheduled in October of the same year. The ship experienced some problems during her long journey. 

During her stay of three months in Japan, Ertuğrul frigate lost twelve crew members to epidemic. While returning from the goodwill voyage, she encountered a typhoon off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture, subsequently drifted into a reef and sank. The shipwreck resulted in the loss of 533 sailors and officers, including Rear Admiral Ali Osman Pasha. Only 69 sailors and officers survived and returned home later aboard two Japanese corvettes. The event is still commemorated as a foundation stone of Japanese-Turkish friendship.

Japan was involved in a plot with Young Turk exiles to set up a puppet state in Central Asia and Xinjiang with a former Ottoman Prince as its monarch in the 1930s. The Japanese invited an Ottoman prince, Abdulkerim, and several anti-Atatürk Young Turk exiles from Turkey to assist them in setting up a puppet state in Xinjiang with the Ottoman Prince as Sultan. All of the Turkish exiles were enemies of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Turkish government under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk reacted angrily at this plot and the Turkish embassy in Japan denounced the Japanese plan to create a puppet state, labeling it a “Muslim Manchukuo”. Atatürk referred was not interested in Pan-Turanism due to the numerous problems the young Turkish Republic was dealing with and did not want the Ottoman royal family to try to create a new monarchist state to undermine the Republic of Turkey.

In 1985, the almost century old gesture of kindness was reciprocated during the Iran–Iraq War. As hostilities escalated to an extent that all aircraft were threatened with being shot-down, Turkey sent an aircraft in to rescue 215 Japanese nationals who were living in Tehran at the time. The Turkish government issued a statement:

“We have not forgotten the rescue of the sailors of the Ertuğrul. Thus, once we heard there were Japanese citizens in need of help, we went to their rescue.”

The Japanese government has not granted refugee status to any of the Kurds in Japan who have fled from Turkey due to alleged persecution and resulted in them living in destitution, with no education and having no legal residency status.

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