Italian minister defends red building
Saturday, February 3, 2007 at 05:00 EST
TOKYO — Visiting Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Friday that the Italian Cultural Institute in Tokyo is "very beautiful" amid angry calls by Japanese neighbors that the red color of the building disrupts the local scenery. But the minister said that the Italian government has "empathy" with the neighbors' protests against the 12-story institute which opened in October 2005 and will seek an amicable solution.
D'Alema made the remarks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club after facing a question over the issue by the head of the major Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun, which called the building "grotesque" and not suitable for establishments in the nearby areas such as Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and the Yasukuni Shrine.
The institute, aimed at spreading Italian culture and promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries, was designed by renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti. "I saw it, and I thought it was very beautiful...I think the Italian Cultural Institute is one of Ms Aulenti's masterpieces," the minister, who concurrently holds the post of deputy premier, said.