Table Speech

Ertugrul Saves the World

September 4, 2013

Mr. Kiyoharu Ura
President, NPO Ertugrul Saves the World
President, Quality Corporation

 Our specified non-profit organization “Ertugrul Saves the World” was founded in June 2012 at Wakayama City with the mission to make contributions to world peace. We named our organization after the actual Ottoman frigate that was wrecked in 1890, the incident that highlights the amazing and moving relationship built between Japan and Turkey over many years.

 In the midst of Iran-Iraq War that broke out over 30 years ago, the Iraqi President Hussein made a shocking announcement on March 15, 1985, that “Iraqi forces will shoot down all airplanes, including commercial flights that will fly over Iraq after 48 hours.” Countries took emergency measures to rescue their people from Iraq by military planes and commercial aircrafts.

 However, over 200 Japanese got stuck at the airport in Teheran because there was no law that stipulated the Self-Defense Forces to urgently evacuate Japanese expatriates. As they waited in despair, the Republic of Turkey sent two governmental aircrafts to rescue the Japanese.

 Now, what made Turkey so supportive towards Japan? The incident that had taken place over a century ago made them render such strong support. The Ottoman navy frigate Ertugrul encountered a typhoon off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture on September 16, 1890, while returning from a goodwill voyage to Japan. This catastrophic maritime accident resulted in the loss of over 500 lives. The villagers of Kii Oshima risked their lives to rescue and take every possible care of the 69 sailors and officers who had survived. They hoped that embracing them against their own naked bodies would help to warm and revive the freezing cold Turkish sailors. They even fed the survivors white rice and chicken, which were rare treats for an impoverished fishing village. I was deeply impressed to know that elementary school children in Turkey learn about this dedicated rescue through their textbooks that has fostered a sense of gratitude to Japan over many generations.

 Touching upon the background of our NPO, we started as a fund-raising organization to assist film production on the two stories that highlight friendly relationship between Japan and Turkey. With Mr. Mitsutoshi Tanaka as its director and Ms. Eriko Komatsu as its scriptwriter, the movie will be co-produced by the two countries shouldering its production cost of 280 million yen each. Filming is scheduled to start next April. Our NPO membership totals 443 to date and we have now raised 11 million yen. We plan to raise 20 million yen by next March. Our members include young business leaders in Wakayama Prefecture. After extensive discussions, we decided to continue our NPO activities even after the film’s completion to work for the greater cause of world peace.

 You might wonder why “Ertugrul saves the world.” Let me highlight two points: one is the spirit of humanity and the other is collaboration between Japan and Turkey that leads the world to genuine peace. I believe people of all nationalities and races are endowed with humanity to help people in need. Nowadays, we come across many heartbreaking stories, so I hope our movie will serve to recall the warm spirit of humanity and cooperation. I also believe harmonious coexistence of mankind is the key for our future prosperity. I must say excessive competition that raged throughout Europe and US during the past two centuries had serious downsides, manifest in violent riots or high unemployment rates that could eventually ruin the world’s economy. I believe Asian countries should take a lead in making a harmonious world, especially Japan with our spirit of “wa (harmony.)” Turkey is said to be the most pro-Japanese country and its economy has come to enjoy high growth today. I believe collaboration between our two countries will achieve genuine world peace that “saves the world.”

 There are many other reasons behind the friendly relationship between Turkey and Japan. For example, Japan defeated their long time enemy Russia during the Russo-Japanese War. The first President of Turkey, Ataturk (meaning “Father of the Turks”), is known for his respect for Emperor Meiji. Turkish soldiers wounded during the Korean War who visited Japan on their way home were impressed how polite Japanese people were and how beautiful our towns and cities were developed. They also admired the miraculous recovery we made from the devastating damages caused by World War II to become the world’s economic superpower.

 Turkey has its geographical advantages of being a gateway to European, Islamic and North African countries as well as oil-producing nations. They are also blessed with young and talented workforce in abundance.

 Before closing, let me reiterate that Turkey is the most pro-Japanese country in the world. They might be able to give us moral support and cheer up the Japanese feeling somewhat discouraged these days. I believe collaboration between Turkey and Japan can advance building a harmonious and peaceful world from Asia. We hope to complete a very attractive movie which will lay a path to a new era for Japan and Turkey.