Ahead of this year’s summit held in Japan of the Group of Seven most industrialized economies, the Italian government headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been preparing to take over the group’s rotating presidency with a firm commitment to further raise living standards around the world, which has emerged from a debilitating pandemic.
On the sidelines, Japan and Italy have renewed efforts to bolster cooperation in various fields of mutual interest, like defense, trade and culture, as the two countries return to robust economic growth, a trend that will continue, according to Yu Miyake, director general of Japan External Trade Organization in Milan and secretary general of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Italy.
Italian Ambassador to Japan Gianluigi Benedetti recently spoke about how the two countries will strengthen their industrial and scientific partnerships.
“My message for all our Japanese friends and companies that are interested in Italy is: Let’s go beyond the three Fs (food, fashion and furniture). Our excellent manufacturing capabilities are also the result of very good engineering and a lot of technology. This is a common element of our two countries,” Benedetti said.
Japanese Ambassador to Italy Satoshi Suzuki has given full support to strengthen this bilateral partnership.
“Cooperation between Italy and Japan is crucial not only bilaterally, but also for the resolution of various challenges facing the international community. I sincerely hope that we continue to deepen the already solid bond between Italy and Japan built over 150 years,” Suzuki said.
To complement the embassy’s efforts, Consul General of Japan in Milan Yuji Amamiya set up a Japanese Business Support Desk to facilitate the activities of Japanese companies in the eight regions of northern Italy, including Milan.
“Ever since Osaka and Milan signed a twin city agreement in 1981, they have deepened their relations in a wide range of fields, including culture, art and economics. We like to support activities that further develop economic and cultural exchanges as a means to bring the two countries even closer together,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Italian Ministry of Defense committed to increase its participation in the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP), an air defense initiative led by Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan to develop a sixth-generation stealth fighter jet.
On the Italian side, the main contractor will be Leonardo S.p.A., with Avio Aero working on the engines and MBDA working on missile development.
“We have a 30-plus-year relationship with Japanese companies. We think there is a good cultural and technical fit. Our involvement in GCAP is a big recognition of our capabilities and the value we can bring to the program. Through new breakthroughs in technology, we will also support the design and development of the power and propulsion system of this sixth-generation fighter. We will make available our knowledge, expertise, experience, as well as the passion and commitment of our people,” said Avio Aero Vice President for Strategy, Marketing and Sales Pierfederico Scarpa.
Since its acquisition by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in 2018, the Lafert Group has benefitted from an interaction of two different cultures.
“You have the opportunity to play an important part of a global group. It is a harmonious blend that is driven by mutual respect,” said Sumitomo Heavy Industries Senior Vice President Shaun Dean.
In other sectors, there is widespread enthusiasm over the redoubled commitment to strengthen business ties with Japan, among them CBC Procos, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
“We have never stopped investing. We’ve continued to grow both in terms of capacity, compliance and cutting-edge equipment. Some of the most important projects came to life in these last three years such as the Quality and R&D Labs, but the future is our real focus,” said Procos CEO Enrico Zodio.
For the family-run Flamma Group, working with Japanese companies has resulted in an increased knowledge of how the global industry operates and how to improve their own development and production processes, said CEO and President GianPaolo Negrisoli.
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Italia CEO Luigi Ksawery Luca’ shared a similar experience as the country head of the world’s largest automotive company.
“We have partners in Italy who are the most innovative and highest performing entrepreneurs in the Italian market. They have been following the Toyota standards, the Toyota philosophy, and the Toyota way of doing business. The key to our success is the link Italian entrepreneurs have with Japan and who have endorsed the Japanese way of doing things,” Luca’ said.
KWE Italia Managing Director Joe Aoun expressed his thoughts on the blend of cultures, saying: “We’ve been around for 25 years and we’ve been growing exponentially. It’s easy to say that the Italian mentality is so different from the Japanese. But guess what? It’s working because you take the best out of both cultures and you blend them together and you offer a product, a service, or a type of conversation that actually fits both mentalities.”
On the other hand, University of Genoa Vice President for International Affairs Fulvio Mastrogiovanni believes that expanding the exposure of students to different cultures, such as Japan’s, will broaden their minds and sharpen their understanding of the world.
“Providing the opportunity to go to Japan is a tremendous experience for our students. That is a great opportunity for someone who is eager to learn different things. They come out of the experience better,” he said.
As for Komatsu Italia Manufacturing Managing Director David Bazzi, he foresees increased possibilities of further growth, given the solid integration achieved between the Japanese high engineering standards and the Italian creativity.