ANKARA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A series of Japanese cultural events have been held in Turkish capital city Ankara in recent weeks to promote ties forged between Japan and Turkey more than a century ago.
A Japanese film festival has been launched in Ankara organized by the Embassy of Japan and many cinema lovers. The event attracted many university students.
A 24-year-old student who is learning Japanese at university, Ahmet, said the event will help deepen interest in Japan among people in Turkey.
"Several friends and I are trying to learn Asian languages, because we think that the future lies over there and the potential that it holds. I am learning Japanese and a close friend is learning Chinese, and we eventually want to go to those countries to learn the culture," he said to Xinhua before the projection of the film "When the curtains open" with both Turkish and English subtitles in a cinema in downtown Kizilay.
YOUTH, LOVE AND DREAMS
The Japanese ambassador, Akio Miyajima, who was also present for the screening said the main subjects of the Japanese films will evolve around love, youth and dreams. "We are inviting everyone to watch the films with their loved ones," told the ambassador to reporters, quoted by the local press.
It is the first time that such an event is being held in Turkey and more than 350 people attended for the first screening and more the following days, reported the press.
Japanese comics and animation have helped cultivate an interest in learning the Japanese language in the country, especially among the young. The number of people who have taken an exam to gauge their proficiency in Japanese has increased by more than 50 percent this year, compared to a year earlier.
Japanese Minister for "Cool Japan" Strategy, Masaji Matsuyama, who was in Ankara recently, said he hopes participants in the festival will serve as bridges between Japan and Turkey.
Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus noted that the number of Japanese tourists is increasing after a decline due to concerns over the security situation. He expressed his hope for further cultural exchanges between the countries.
Visitors enjoyed music played on a Japanese "koto" harp and a traditional Turkish flute "ney," as well as a dance performance by Turkish students.
Kurtulmus also said that 2019 will be a "Turkish Tourism Year" in Japan, recalling that 2003 was also a Turkish year in Japan.
He noted the fact that 2018 is the 94th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Japan.
MORE TOURISTS EXPECTED
The minister said the number of tourists visiting Turkey was expected to rise this year. "In the new period, we will launch new markets in the Far East Asian countries, particularly in Japan, China, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia."
About economic ties between the two countries, he said: "Japanese investors have always had an interest in large projects of Turkey, such as Avrasya (Eurasia)Tunnel, the third bridge (on the Bosporus, in Istanbul). We will improve our strategic partnership with Japan in every field."
Japanese football player Yuto Nagatomo's transfer to Turkish football giant Galatasaray also made headlines in Japan and Turkey.
Moreover, Turkish people didn't forget the humanitarian assistance provided by Japan to Turkey in 1999 after the devastating Marmara earthquake that claimed 17,000 lives.
There is also the case of an Ottoman vessel, the Ertugrul frigate, who sank 128 years ago because of a typhoon off the Coast of Japan during a goodwill visit in 1890, a maritime disaster that occasioned closer ties between the two countries.
Five hundred eighty seven sailors and officers were killed in the incident, but local people braved very unfavorable weather conditions to save 69 Turkish sailors.
On overall trade relations, the planned construction of a nuclear power plant at Sinop on the Black Sea coast, which includes a French-Japanese consortium, is a key Turkish project involving Japan, even though the project has suffered some delay because of the political climate in Turkey and a failed coup in 2016.