How the Japanese know Turkey! - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

How the Japanese know Turkey!

For a couple of days, we are in Japan in order to watch the “U.N. 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.” The conference is being held in the city of “Sendai” in northern Japan. In the 2011 earthquake, Sendai and its surrounding saw the most damage. The conference will cover the topic of policies on disaster risk reduction for the upcoming 10 years. In the conference our country is being represented by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş. It was very interesting to see Mr. Numan and the accompanying “AFAD” committee being honored and applauded as soon as they landed at the airport. The Japanese are supporting Turkey with major affection. Curiously following the committee, the Japanese became elated when they found out we had come from Turkey. We saw the same attention by the various nationalities of Muslims who were coming to the “Turkish Tokyo Mosque” for the Friday prayer.
The dialogue between the Japanese public and Turkey dates back to the end of the 19th century. The Japanese public was extremely affected by the accident of “Frigate Ertuğrul” on its way back from a camaraderie visit to the Japanese Empire in 1890. Over 500 of our marines were martyred in this unfortunate accident. Our martyrs were buried on a small Japanese island. This disaster became the trademark of Turkey and Japan’s camaraderie. The friendship that came with the disaster positively affected the Japanese’s view on Islam. While we are on this topic, it would be in bad taste to continue on without remembering Abdürreşid İbrahim for his great efforts in introducing Islam to Japan. Abdürreşid İbrahim Effendi, who established good relations with the Japanese Imperial family, ensured that the Kazan Turks, who migrated to Japan in order to escape Russian enslavement, were recognized as a congregation.

Abdürreşid İbrahim dedicated his whole life to the liberation of the Islamic world. Unfortunately, our youth do not quite know about the services Abdürreşid İbrahim provided during the final periods of the Ottoman Empire in the Turco-Italian, Balkan wars and the First World War. By going to Japan in 1909, Abdürreşid İbrahim, the founder of “Asian Society” and a man of battle, became a part of “Asian solidarity,” which stood against exploitation. Abdürreşid İbrahim was mentioned with praise in Mehmet Akif Ersoy’s poem called “On the bench of Süleymaniye.” He was born under Russian enslavement in 1852. Abdürreşid İbrahim, who lived in Turkey for a while, moved to Tokyo in 1933 and spent the rest of his life trying to spread Islam in Japan.

After visiting the” Turkish Tokyo Mosque,” the second place that Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş stopped at was Abdürreşid İbrahim Effendi’s grave. Mister Numan, who came for the Sendai Conference, went through some emotional moments as he joined the prayer at the Tama cemetery. A crowded group of Kazan, Turkish and other nationalities took part in the prayers. Mister Numan explained some scenes from Abdürreşid İbrahim’s life of struggle and stated that the deceased in Japan know Abdürreşid İbrahim better. Frigate Ertuğrul and Abdürreşid İbrahim Effendi are two important historical points for the alliance of the two countries. Another important figure was Prime Minister Turgut Özal, who sent a plane to evacuate 215 Japanese who were stuck in Tehran during the most heated days of the Iran-Iraq war. This evacuation operation that occurred 3 hours before Iraq attacked Tehran is still being eulogized and mentioned by the Japanese until this day. 

My mind is still seesawing on these three scenes as we make our 5- to 6-hour trip to Sendai in order to watch the “Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.” I found it more appropriate to explain what transpired in Tokyo before we delved into the topic of what happened and what was discussed in the conference. The conference is still continuing so we still have time.

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