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Address by the Ambassador of Italy, Gianluigi Benedetti on the occasion of the Italian Space Day 2022 (Tokyo, December 13, 2022)

Dear Representatives of the Japanese Government and Ministries,

Dear Representatives of the Italian and Japanese aerospace companies,

Dear Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,



Buongiorno and welcome to the Embassy of Italy in Tokyo for a seminar on Space that we organized to celebrate the Italian Space Day, the anniversary of the launch of the first Italian satellite, the San Marco 1, in 1964.


It is a great honor and privilege for me to host today’s event in the presence of two champions of Space: Japanese Astronaut Naoko YAMAZAKI and Italian Astronaut, General Roberto VITTORI.


This initiative, jointly organized with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims at highlighting the strong relationship between Italy and Japan in the field of aerospace activities as well as in the space economy.


Today, Space endeavors include three sectors: civil, national security, and commercial. Each sector operates with its own goals and assets, although they all rely on a common space industrial base, workforce, and infrastructure. Today’s panel will elaborate on this paradigm, providing us a vision on the future activities in these sectors.


As “space powers”, Italy and Japan partner up in the most important international space programs underway, including those of the European Space Agency and NASA. In this context, Italy and Japan signed the Artemis Accords related to NASA’s new space exploration program, which is going to lead humans to set foot back to the Moon by 2025. In this regard, let me recall that in the past hours the Artemis I mission has been successfully completed with the splash down in the Pacific Ocean of the Orion spacecraft. I am sure that Roberto and Naoko will go deeper in details of this historic mission.


Italy and Japan bilateral cooperation is currently based on a Memorandum of Cooperation in the Field of Space Activities signed in October 2020, which identifies as areas of cooperation: Space science and exploration; Earth observation and related applications; Space transportation; Education and training projects. Under this framework, potential common interests include satellite platforms with application derivatives (Earth observation, telecommunications and navigation), robotic exploration of the solar system, launchers and pressurized structures, the development of lunar drones guided by Artificial Intelligence.


Besides institutional relations, industrial contacts and partnerships have grown in the last few years, with particular attention to the space economy. Following a presentation in Tokyo of Italian aerospace companies, including Leonardo, e-Geos, AVIO/Arianespace, Thales Alenia Space Italia, and ALTEC in April 2017, meetings and B2B were held in Italy in February 2019, involving 17 Italian and 11 Japanese companies. In April 2021, a webinar kept connected a large number of space companies from both countries, and in September 2021 two Japanese companies, Astroscale and iSpace, participated in a side event of the industrial session of the G20 in Rome.


We will keep the momentum of this intense industry-to-industry dialogue by organizing in April next year a new session of B2B meetings in Tokyo, to which ASI and JAXA are already working on and we are confident that this dialogue will eventually generate collaboration projects among our big as well as our small companies and startups.


As a matter of fact, especially at times when the principles of free and open international order are contested, countries that share the same liberal and democratic values need to integrate more among themselves to ensure that they can maintain the capacity to preserve peace and stability as well as their economies and security. What appeared to be an opportunity just a year ago, it is now a necessity, and we must seize this moment to make a quantum leap in our bilateral relationship, specifically when it comes to industrial cooperation, particularly in the Space domain.