Italy did not abandon Japan in the most tragic days after the earthquake, and is now working toward the reconstruction, with a “tangible sign” of its solidarity: raising funds to finance one or more projects to be identified by the Tokyo government.
The initiative “Italy-Japan Friendship and Solidarity” was launched today at the foreign ministry in Rome, where the government brought together business persons, representatives of the Made in Italy brand of excellence and local bodies, which were urged, Minister Frattini explained, “to multiply their efforts at solidarity and friendship” on behalf of a “great nation, and a great people”, with which Italy has “a bridge that no earthquake will ever be able to destroy”. A nation, as MFA Secretary General Giampiero Massolo echoed, that is reacting to and holding up under a disaster that “would have crushed any other country”.
In order to return to normality, Secretary Stefania Craxi went on, Japan needs “the solidarity of friends, like Italy, who are not simply theoretical but real”. And for this reason, she added, “we have decided as a government to make a long-term commitment” to coordinating aid, not least through an ad hoc committee whose honorary chairmanship has been entrusted to Senator Lamberto Dini.
The initiative brought together a range of public and private entities—Confindustria, Comitato Leonardo, the Italy-Japan Foundation, the Italy-Japan Business Group—and the heads of 30 provincial and municipal twinnings with Japan. The year 2011, Frattini pointed out, is “the year of solidarity and friendship between the two countries. Beyond voluntary assistance, Italy plans to frame a good portion of the public and private efforts already launched into a single system. The initiative, he explained, will be prolonged over time and provide not only the important contribution of funds but also for a series of cultural and sports events, as well as awareness-raising activities involving schools and universities, as Minister for Education Maria Stella Gelmini added in her speech.
Spokesperson for cultural spheres tenor Andrea Bocelli, declared “We’re there, we always respond like ‘soldiers’ to these appeals”, while Juventus President Andrea Agnelli offered the support of the world of soccer.
And precisely in order to “contribute to the resumption of normal cultural activity” in Tokyo, the Embassy of Italy has arranged for a series of 119 cultural and scientific events in the autumn, for which “the great challenge will be to maintain these commitments”, given the obvious logistical and economic difficulties caused by the 11 March earthquake, as Ambassador Vincenzo Petrone explained. The events include exhibitions (such as “Venice, bridge between Europe and Asia” and “Leonardo and the Idea of Beauty”), concerts by the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and architecture conferences.
Present at today’s event—to which Undersecretary to the Prime Minister Gianni Letta sent a message in his absence—were Japanese Ambassador to Rome Hiroyasu Ando, who thanked Italy for all its efforts, and Ambassador Petrone. This initiative also bears witness and is thanks for everything that Tokyo did two years ago for L’Aquila when Japan was the first of the G8 countries to offer its help, funding, among other things, the new Auditorium, symbol of that Abruzzo town and which is set to open on 7 May.
A postal account has been set up for contributions to the effort (IBAN: IT60W0100503200000000008672) in the name of the Japanese Embassy 'Donazione Pop Giap'.