Masami Iijima, Chairman of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., has been awarded the title of Grand Officer ("Grande Ufficiale") of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic from President of the Italian Republic, H.E. Sergio Mattarella. The medal was presented to Chairman Iijima on February 20, 2018, by Giorgio Starace, Ambassador of the Republic of Italy to Japan, at a ceremony held at the Ambassador's official residence. This is the second decoration Chairman Iijima has received from the Italian government, following the Commander medal awarded in September 2012.
The Grand Officer ("Grande Ufficiale") of the Order of Merit is regarded as the highest award given to private citizens from overseas.
Chairman Iijima has been Co-Chairman for the Japan side of the Italy-Japan Business Group (IJBG) since April 2015, and this award recognizes his contributions to bridging Japan and Italy through economic partnership and to expanding business by endeavoring to strengthen human exchange. In addition to this, the award is a symbol of appreciation for the contributions made by Mitsui since the 1960s across a range of Italy's business industries, including textiles, chemicals, food products, machinery, and energy.
Mitsui has been engaged in a number of projects in Italy over many years, including business projects such as Alcantara, a joint venture with Toray Industries Inc; MaxMara, the country's largest importer of women's apparel; Eataly, a food product business; and Leonardo Ltd., a helicopter import business. In addition to these, Mitsui & Co. is also involved in the promotion of new business in fields such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals, as well as the largest undeveloped onshore oil field in Western Europe, the Tempa Rossa development project.
Mitsui & Co. will continue to contribute to deepening the relationship between Japan and Italy, through cooperation in wide range of areas, including business, culture, technology, sports, and education.