Ertuğrul was sent to Japan in July 1889 by the Ottoman sultan of the time, in response to the visit of the Japanese Prince Komatsu to Istanbul in October 1887.
After performing its duties in the field of military diplomacy, the frigate, on its way back in September 1890, faced an opposing wind, was damaged and disintegrated and sank in southeastern Japan.
The spiritual legacy of the sad trip, the sinking frigate and the martyred navy officers are still alive in the minds of the Turkish and Japanese peoples, with ceremonies that have lasted for 131 years.
Visited Asian cities
Colonel Osman Bey, son-in-law of Hasan Hüsnü Pasha, the Minister of the Navy of the time, was appointed as the commander of the frigate, which was built in the Istanbul Shipyard in 1874 and had 25 cannons of various diameters, two torpedoes and around 240 rifles.
The frigate, 79 meters long, 15.5 meters wide and 600 horsepower, set off from Istanbul on 14 July 1889 with a crew of 609 sailors, 56 of whom were officers.
The frigate stopped at Suez, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Fukushi, Nagasaki and Kobe respectively; After an 11-month journey, she finally reached Yokohama Port, east of Tokyo.
The Chairman of the Delegation Ali Osman Pasha, accepted by the Emperor of Japan Meiji, presented the letter and medal sent by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II to Meiji.
The frigate, which is recorded in historical archives as the first diplomatic delegation to travel from the Islamic world to Japan in an organized manner, held many meetings as part of the extradition visit.
The Ottoman delegation left Yokohama Harbor on September 15, 1890.
Japan’s harsh “September typhoons”
Ertuğrul, advancing southeast of Japan’s Honshu Island, reached the shores of Kushimoto county in Wakayama province on the evening of September 16, 1890.
The frigate was caught by the severe typhoons of September, which afflict Southern Japan every year around Cape Shionomiseki and Kii Ooshima Island.
After the opposing typhoon, the frigate drifted off Cape Oshima and crashed into the rocks. The frigate, dismantled, sank into the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The 526 crew, including Osman Pasha, the cavalryman Lieutenant Colonel Ali Bey and 54 officers, were martyred in the great naval accident that took place around 21.00 in the evening.
Armored warships, to which the Japanese government sent the survivors, entered Istanbul Harbor in January 1891.
The ships, which stayed here for about a month as guests of the Ottoman Empire, departed from Istanbul in February and returned to Japan 3 months later.
The sad legacy of Ertuğrul, the milestone of Turkish-Japanese friendship, is kept alive at the commemoration ceremonies held every year at the martyrs’ monument erected in 1891 in Kushimoto, where the accident took place, and restored by Turkey in 1937.
The Turkish Museum, built in 1974, contains a model of the Ertuğrul Frigate, photographs and sculptures of the soldiers and commanders on board.
Centenary in 2024
The discharging of the surviving Ottoman sailors by the island villagers and the aid campaigns of the Japanese authorities for the families of the martyrs have not been erased from the memories.
Almost a century after the sinking of the Ertuğrul Frigate, Turkish Airlines (THY) transported a large number of Japanese citizens who were stranded in Tehran in the Iran-Iraq war to Japan in 1985, is also remembered as a keystone of Turkish-Japanese relations.
Turkey-Japan, which will celebrate the centennial of the beginning of their diplomatic relations in 2024, regards these two historical events as turning points in their mutual relations.
Evaluating the importance of the subject to the AA correspondent, Tokyo University Faculty of Sociology Lecturer Prof. Nobuo Misawa stated that the “opportunity to establish sincerity” between the peoples of the two countries regarding the Ertuğrul accident is pleasing.
Stating that “real friendship is far from rumors” between the two countries, Misawa said, “I think academic research based on Ottoman and Japanese sources is necessary for the development of these relations.” made its assessment.