Ceremony held in Japan for victims in sinking of Turkish ship 134 years ago

Japanese and Turkish people have paid their respects to the crewmembers who died when a Turkish ship sank off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, 134 years ago.

The Ertugrul, a naval sailing ship, sank off Kushimoto Town in 1890. More than 500 on board died, but locals rescued 69 others. The incident is said to have led to a friendly relationship between the two countries.

A memorial ceremony was held in front of a cenotaph for the incident on a hill overseeing the sinking site on Monday. About 130 people placed flowers at the memorial and offered a silent prayer. They included Japan's Princess Akiko of Mikasa.

Many people on the Turkish side reportedly travelled on a naval ship that came to Japan to mark the 100th year of Japan-Turkey diplomatic relations.

Turkish Ambassador to Japan Korkut Gungen said he is happy Kushimoto is the first port call for this naval ship in Japan because the town is a special place for Turkey. The ambassador also said he hopes that Turkey and Japan will continue to help each other.

Kushimoto Mayor Tashima Katsumasa said he will work hard to maintain the history of friendship that has lasted for 100 years.

The Turkish ship will leave Kushimoto on Tuesday, and will visit Tokyo and Hiroshima.