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Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Bulent Meric during an interview Tuesday expressed a keen interest in the ongoing debate over the Abe government’s contentious security bills.

“There are very legitimate questions asked to the government, and the government is very capable in answering these questions,” Meric said during a courtesy call on The Japan Times. He was referring to opposition both within the Diet and among the public to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s set of security reform proposals.

Meric said it is clear why such legislation is needed, as Japan should adapt itself to the international security climate.

“The dynamics of the international system (are) changing and every country should adapt itself to the new conditions, to the new system,” Meric said. “In fact, (the) international system per se is changing.”

The ambassador, who has been observing Japan since he was first assigned to the embassy here in 1986, said Japan lags behind other nations by about 30 years in terms of adapting to current realities.

Meric referred to the hostage crisis this year in which two Japanese — freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, a self-styled military contractor — were murdered by militants acting in the name of the Islamic State group.

He said Turkey did its utmost to help free them.

He also said more than 30 Turkish diplomats have been taken hostage in Iraq by militants. When Turkey was asked to help with Japan’s hostage crisis, Ankara used the communications channels it had established to negotiate for Goto and Yukawa, Meric said.

He also said Japanese journalists need to understand the intricacies of the power struggles and history of the Middle East to cover the region properly. He was critical of the tendency of Japanese media to rely on accounts by Western media and Western sources in writing their stories.

He said that to understand such a “complex situation,” a range of factors must be taken into account.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of friendship ties between Turkey and Japan, established after the Turkish frigate Ertugrul sank off the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture in 1890. Local residents helped rescue survivors. The two nations established formal diplomatic ties in 1924.

The bilateral relationship is in an advanced phase and is “based on a very strong friendship,” said Meric, who has been the ambassador since April 2014.

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