Lesson 10 Friendship over Time

(Part 1)
On March 17th, 1985, during the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq suddenly announced, “Forty-eight hours from now, we will shoot down any airplanes flying over Iran.” Foreign people in Iran began to return home in a hurry on the airlines of their home countries. Unfortunately, at that time, there was no regular airline service between Iran and Japan.
The Japanese embassy in Iran made every effort to get seats on foreign airlines. However, they gave top priority to the people of their home countries and refused to accept the Japanese passengers. More than 200 Japanese people were left in Iran. Just when they were losing hope of going home, the Japanese embassy received a phone call: “Turkish Airlines will offer special seats for the Japanese people left in Iran.” Two planes from Turkey appeared in the sky and helped the Japanese out of Iran. It was one hour and fifteen minutes before the deadline.
The next day the Japanese media took the rescue up as their top news. However, they did not know the real reason why Turkey saved the Japanese at the risk of being shot down. The Turkish ambassador to Japan explained later, “One of the reasons is that the Turkish people have good feelings toward the Japanese people. This is because of the Ertugrul accident in 1890.” What was the Ertugrul accident? It goes back to the Meiji era in Japan.

(Part 2)
On September 16th, 1890, a strong typhoon hit Oshima Island, Wakayama. Stormy winds began to blow against Kashinozaki Lighthouse, which stood on a steep cliff at the eastern edge of Oshima.
In the evening, a big man rushed into the lighthouse keepers’ room. He was all wet, covered with blood, and clearly not Japanese. The keepers soon understood that an accident had happened at sea. “Whose ship are you on? How many crew members do you have?”
The keepers couldn’t make themselves understood in Japanese.
The keepers took out a book which had pictures of national flags. The injured man slowly pointed his finger at the red flag with a white crescent moon and a star in its center.
“This flag … Turkey!”
With gestures, the Turkish man told them that the ship had sunk and all the crew had been thrown into the sea. He had managed to swim to the beach and climb up the cliff.
The villagers, who heard of the accident from the lighthouse keepers, quickly began to rescue the other crew members. But it was dangerous work in the middle of a typhoon. Some villagers pulled the injured crew members up the cliff by rope. Others climbed up the steep cliff, carrying the large Turkish people on their shoulders. After that, they took their clothes off and, with their bodies, warmed the survivors shivering with cold.

(Part 3)
The name of the Turkish ship was “the Ertugrul.” It was an old-fashioned wooden warship with about 650 crew members. The accident happened on the way from Yokohama to Kobe. There were only 69 survivors. If the villagers had not helped them, all the crew would have lost their lives.
Although the poor villagers did not have enough food for themselves, they offered precious rice and sweet potatoes to the survivors. Even the women and children gave their own clothes to the naked crew members. When they ran out of food, the villagers even gave them the chickens which were kept to tell time.
Although the villagers did not know any Turkish at all, they encouraged the injured survivors in Japanese and took care of them for three days. The Turkish people thanked the villagers with all their hearts and kept the kindness of the villagers in their minds.

(Part 4)
Early on the morning of September 20th, a German warship arrived at Oshima to take the survivors to Kobe. At noon they were seen off by the villagers, who had taken care of them until just a few minutes before.
“Get home safely.”
All the crew that could walk on their own came onto the deck. They waved good-bye to the villagers until the port was out of sight.
After a month’s stay in Kobe, the 69 Turkish survivors left Japan for their home on two Japanese warships on October 11th, 1890. They arrived safely in Turkey on January 2nd, 1891. A lot of Japanese people learned about the accident through the newspapers and sent money to the families of the dead crew members.
Now we understand why the Turkish government decided to rescue the Japanese people during the Iran-Iraq War. The Ertugrul story has been passed on for generations in Turkey and its people keep a strong friendship with the Japanese. The Ertugrul brought Japan and Turkey together. The bridge between the two countries has grown over time.




Lesson 10 時を超えた友情

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

(Part 4)