Turkish Airlines marks 125th years of friendship between Japan and Turkey

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

thy kushimoto2Turkish Airlines special plane “KUSHIMOTO” lands in Narita Airport today, a day before the world premiere of “Kainan (Ertuğrul) 1890,” a film marking 125 years of friendship between Japan and Turkey. The Airbus 330-200 is designed after the same Turkish Airlines plane (DC-10) that saved 215 Japanese passengers in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war in 1985, as depicted in the film. Among the aircraft’s passengers today were the brave cabin attendants who were onboard the original plane 30 years ago.

The film “Kainan (Ertuğrul) 1890” describes two historical incidents involving Turkey and Japan. In 1890, the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul sank after encountering a typhoon whilst on a goodwill voyage to Japan. The people of Kushimoto village in Wakayama Prefecture, where the Ertuğrul sank, helped rescue a large number of the Turkish crew. This story is a famous moment in history for Turkish people, and is recounted in Turkish elementary school textbooks. The film flashes forward 95 years later, to the 1985 Iran-Iraq war when an emergency Turkish Airlines flight was deployed to rescue 215 Japanese passengers stranded in Tehran during an aviation blockade.

The year 2015 is significant as it marks 125 years since the Ertuğrul shipwreck in Kushimoto, and 30 years since the rescue flight from Tehran. In celebration of 125 years of friendly relations between Japan and Turkey, Turkish Airlines has created the KUSHIMOTO, a special plane that links both historical events. The plane was named after Kushimoto, the village that saved the Ertuğrul frigate’s Turkish crew.

thy kushimoto

After the 8:55 am touchdown in Narita, the cabin attendants onboard stood at the gangway of KUSHIMOTO, wearing their original uniforms from the flight in 1985, waving both Japanese and Turkish national flags. Junichi Numata and Teruji Takahoshi, two of the 215 Japanese passengers saved by the Turkish plane, greeted and handed bouquets of Turkish bellflowers to welcome them to Japan for this momentous occasion.

At the ceremony, Mr. Numata gave an emotional speech reflecting on that day 30 years ago.“ Remembering that time 30 years ago, we Japanese were left behind in Tehran in a very desperate situation, with no airplane carrier willing to let us board. Amidst Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s warnings of indiscriminate attacks in Iran’s airspace, Turkey dispatched the emergency planes and came to rescue us. For us, Turkey is a lifesaver. I cannot express my gratitude enough to the Turkish people”

During his speech at the ceremony, Turkish Airlines’ Vice President of Sales for Asia & Far East, Ahmet Harun Baştürk said, “Turkey dispatched an emergency Turkish Airlines DC-10 to rescue 215 Japanese during the Iran/Iraq War in 1985. We are very proud that Turkish Airlines had such an important role to play. The special KUSHIMOTO plane which used the same design as the original DC-10, was named after the Kushimoto village in Wakayama prefecture, where the Turkish crew of the Ertuğrul frigate in 1890 were saved. We are thrilled to be a part of the extraordinary friendship between Japan and Turkey that has lasted more than a hundred years. We’re delighted to make this reunion happen between our brave staff and the Japanese people from the incident. Moving forward, we wish to continuously play an important role in maintaining such a wonderful friendship.”  

“We, the people of Kushimoto village, are deeply honored that this special plane designed after the original in 1985 has been named after Kushimoto. We hope that the KUSHIMOTO will become a bridge to connect our two countries and lead to a deeper friendship in the future,” Katsumasa Tajima, Mayor of Kushimoto City said, admiring the design of the KUSHIMOTO plane.

“The partnership between our two countries is a very special one that began with genuine friendship, which has been nurtured over 125 years. We would like to pass this precious friendship on to the next generation,” Ambassador of Turkey, H.E. Mr. Ahmet Bülent Meric said.

The KUSHIMOTO will be flying between Kansai and Istanbul after this event.

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