(AGI) Rome, May 12 - Italy and Japan are being brought ever closer, partly thanks to the thousands of students taking Japanese language lessons. Specific figures were mentioned by Prince Akishino, on a visit to Rome with his wife Kiko Kawashima, who spoke at the international Japanese literature symposium at the Sapienza University of Rome. "I am delighted to hear that there are more than 42 institutes in which Japanese is being studied by over 7,400 students", supporting the "growing number of films and books" which create "opportunities for increasing the general dissemination" of Japanese culture. "I am very proud and it is of benefit to our relations," he added. "The rise in the number of people in Italy who love the Japanese culture is a direct result of your enduring efforts," he told teachers, scholars and experts at the Sapienza, as well as students, thanking "all those who go on working" in the field of education, as well as "the Japanese citizens living in Italy. I have great respect for your passion and for all the work you have done. I hope the reciprocal understanding and friendly ties between our two peoples will be further deepened." Prince Akishino is the younger son of Emperor Akihito and second in line to the throne. The international symposium was organised by La Sapienza, in partnership with the Japanese Institute of Culture and the Italian Association for Japanese Studies (AISTUGIA), and opened by the Institute's Director Naomi Takasu and the Director of the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies (ISO) Matilde Mastrangelo. Guest of honour was the Japanese writer Abe Kazushige, author of Individual Projection, in conversation with Gianluca Coci, who translated the novel into Italian. (AGI). .