Japan and Turkey are able to build a close relationship as both nations have a lot in common as bridges between East and West, Turkey’s ambassador to Japan told an audience in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“The two countries today are very traditional” while also having adapted to Westernization and globalization, said Solmaz Unaydin, who gave the speech at Aoyama Gakuin University in Shibuya Ward.

The ambassador said government-level exchanges between the two countries were being promoted. Several key Turkish ministers visited Japan recently, and Junichiro Koizumi in January became the second Japanese prime minister to visit Turkey.

“Prime Minister Koizumi came at the very important period” for Turkey, she said.

The Year of Turkey in Japan was in 2003, with 165 events held over 16 months, and 2010 will be Japan’s year in Turkey, Unaydin said.

The Turkish public has a very good image of Japan. In media polls asking what country Turks like best, Japan often ranks No. 1.

She was speaking as part of a series of talks by ambassadors, cohosted by The Japan Times, Aoyama Gakuin University, the Japan-Turkey Society and the Mainichi Shimbun.

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