Ahmet Mete Tuncoku

Ahmet Mete Tuncoku
Professor, Middle East Technical University

Photo of President Fujii presented the award certificates to Mr.Tuncoku

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Although I have received this -award from the Japan Foundation in recognition of my contribution to the spread of education in the Japanese language in Turkey, my true field of expertise is international relations and my doctorate was earned in the field of law. It may appear that I am in the wrong line, so I would like to say a few words about the history behind this.

In 1969 I graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University, and to get into graduate school I resolved to go and study in Japan, though I knew absolutely no Japanese. All I knew of Japan was what I had learned from classes and picked up from books. At that time Japanese studies had not yet begun in Turkey and there were no means of studying it.

Photo of Mr.Tuncoku at ceremony

Consequently, I experienced mental stress from living and conducting research in a foreign country without knowing the language. Based upon this experience, when I returned home to Turkey in 1978 I attached great importance to introducing and spreading Japanese education in Turkey. Although Japanese studies in Turkey were late in starting, they are making rapid and steady progress. Back in 1970 there were only three Turkish students studying in Japan, whereas today that number has risen to 170, and a Turkey-Japan students friendship association has been established in Tokyo.

In 1969 I had two choices. One, which many had followed, was to take the road to the west, and the other was to follow the road east-a road that few had trodden. I chose the road to the east, came to Japan, and for the past 30 years I have continued to tread that path. Looking back, it has been a long journey, with many ordeals. It demanded constant determination, perseverance, and effort. However, although this road has been an extremely difficult one, it has also been full of surprises, discoveries, new knowledge, and mental satisfaction. What is more, it has not always been a lonely path, as I have been encouraged and inspired by assistance received from Japanese institutions, teachers who have given me guidance, university colleagues, and friends.

Photo of Mr.Tuncoku at ceremony

I appreciate that this was done in order to promote friendly relations and trust between our two countries, and to build mutual understanding. The economic support I received over many years was also for this objective, and I feel that it is something that has been extended from all the people of Japan.

The importance of extending kindness and repaying it is also a common feature of the customs and culture of my home country, Turkey. I am constantly aware of this, and it has been the driving force behind my own activities.

I have been accumulating experience for 30 years, but even today I am still bursting with curiosity, and feel that I am not so much a researcher as a student with a passion to learn more. I intend to continue my activities with enthusiasm.
Finally, I wish to express my gratitude for the unstinting support I have received and to request that you also extend a friendly hand to other Turkish researchers who are diligently pursuing Japanese studies.

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