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Address by the Ambassador of Italy in Japan, Gianluigi Benedetti on the occasion of the Webinar “Distances – 2nd ISEAS ageing society in IT & JP Multidisciplinary Workshop” November 12, 2021

Distinguished speakers, dear participants,

It is my special pleasure and honor to greet you all at the opening of this very important and qualified multidisciplinary event, organized by the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology of the University of Tokyo in collaboration with ISEAS.

As we all know, Italy and Japan share the problem of ageing society, but, this issue is now made even more complex because of the social distance requirements imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The concept of “distance” in ageing society has always been considered as a burden especially for independently living seniors, but in the middle of the pandemic crisis it became a need, being distance required for protecting the life of aged people. However, when the mandatory isolation was protracted, “distance” soon reversed again into a burden.

One year later, vaccination is changing the picture and gradually distances are getting closer. The Olympic Games took place in Tokyo, but instead of managing crowds, as it was the issue before the pandemic, a big part of the organization efforts was in managing distance.

The virus is not defeated yet but the perception of distance is already different from one year ago. Therefore, it will be quite interesting listening to the speakers to understand how they are tackling these new scenarios in their research work.

All the different facets of the distance concept need a multidisciplinary approach. This is why in these two-day event, we will hear speeches from scientists, engineers, humanists, designers, and artists to capture the multiple readings and interpretations of the theme, and its implications in our society.

I would like to thank ISEAS for hosting this seminar, and for gathering such a great number of experts in various fields of research to talk about this challenging theme.

In particular, I want to acknowledge Professor Silvio Vita, Professor at ISEAS and at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, and Professor Stefania Bandini of the University of Milano-Bicocca and the RCAST of the University of Tokyo, for their great contribution to realize this event that, in a wider sense, in one more important opportunity to promote Italian-Japanese understanding and cooperation.

I am certain that this workshop on such a thought-provoking topic will be productive and will offer us many new ideas and different ways of thinking. I hope you all can enjoy the talks and be inspired from the contributions of the distinguished speakers.

I thank you and leave the floor to Professor Giorgio Amitrano, Director of the Scientific Board of ISEAS and Professor at the Napoli University L’Orientale.