Japan and Italy sister cities renew ties

The Italian city of Civitavecchia and the Japanese city of Ishinomaki, severely damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, renewed their sister-city affiliation on Monday.

The two port cities have been friendship towns since 1971 and have historical ties dating back to the 17th century -- a Japanese delegation dispatched to Europe left Ishinomaki in 1613 and arrived in Civitavecchia, roughly 80 kilometers northwest of Rome, in 1615.

The renewal of their ties should have come on the 40th anniversary in 2011, after Ishinomaki, in Miyagi Prefecture, was enlarged through a municipal merger in 2005, but it was delayed due to the quake-tsunami disaster.

A signing ceremony was held in the Italian city, with Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama attending.