Inaugural greeting upon taking up the post of president for a second term

(April 2, 2019)

Yesterday, a new era of Reiwa was announced. It is my great pleasure to be able to start my second term as President of Hiroshima University (HU) with the new imperial era giving a prospect of Japan’s new and bright future.

Since I was inaugurated as the 12th President of Hiroshima University in 2015, four years have passed. With your help and support, I have been working hard for HU over the last four years. With university funding reduced, the environment surrounding the tertiary sector in Japan is becoming more and more challenging. Unlike other national universities in Japan, HU has not yet found itself unable to afford to replace faculty members when they leave. I believe that the reason why HU has been able to avoid the worst case scenario is because very early on it set up a system (e.g. setting up the Academy of Hiroshima University) which enabled the university to be in line with government policy. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you. By outlining the challenges of the last four years, including the university’s agendas, I would like to deliver a policy speech for the second term of my presidency at HU.

In my first term inauguration speech, I talked about the idea of “3 Ls and 1 R” when considering the future direction of Hiroshima University. These Ls and Rs are: Legacy, Locality, Liberal Arts, and Research University. First of all, I will explain something about “Legacy” and “Locality”, followed by “Liberal Arts” and “Research University” respectively.

As HU was established on the atomic-bombed land of Hiroshima city with the founding principle of “Pursuit of Peace”, Legacy and Locality are the fundament on which the University stands. Since my inauguration, the university’s slogan has been: “To cultivate peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.”

The year of 1989 marked the beginning of a new era of Heisei 1 when the world saw the fall of the Berlin Wall that had symbolized the Cold War. However, the lull did not endure, and before long, the world started to witness an outbreak of conflicts and acts of terrorism one after another including the horrific 9.11 terror attacks in 2001. As we are all aware, the environment surrounding the world is becoming more complex and challenging following the rise of “National Particularism” and the nuclear arms race.

Be that as it may, the coherent principle of HU has not wavered one inch. Instead, I think that its importance is continuing to grow. In order to contribute to world peace and to the sustainable development of the world, HU has been addressing the task of making Peace-related Subjects compulsory to all the students at HU. In addition, last year saw the launch of “the Peace Lecture Marathon” in which a guest speaker, usually a head of state or a foreign ambassador in Japan, is invited to deliver his/her lecture presentation about peace. In addition, HU has been actively accepting international students with some disabilities, as it intends to continue communicating with the public in concrete terms regarding what activities HU should undertake as a university of peace.

The SPLENDOR PLAN 2017, a new long-term vision drawn up by HU, defines the new peace science philosophy as being “Science for Sustainable Development”, and upholds the following mission: “To realize a diversified, free, and peaceful global society”. Such a mission carries the same thought as that of the United Nations: SDGs or “Sustainable Development Goals”. I would like to spearhead the steady promotion of HU’s long-term vision.

As for the other “L”, which stands for Liberal Arts, two years ago HU launched a special lecture series called “A Liberal Arts Education: Spread your wings around the world.” This involves HU inviting leaders who play active roles in a variety of fields, while at the same time keeping its solid base of liberal Arts education with its tradition and proven track history. Regarding the Hiroshima University Knowledge Forum. This exciting initiative involves Nobel Prize winners being invited to deliver lectures at HU. We have held seven forums so far, including the last one in Tokyo. I sincerely hope that these lectures will provide all students including new ones with the opportunity to think about not only “how” but also “why.” I also hope that this attitude or philosophy will become innate for the rest of their lives.

HU was chosen to be part of the Program for the Promotion of Research Universities, and it was selected as one of the Top Global University Project. With the URA (University Research Administrator) support system fully in place, we must proceed towards our goal of realizing our pledge to be ranked in the Top 100 Universities in the world. The target number for international students assigned to each university adopted for the Top Global University is 3,600. Currently, HU has about 2,000 international students, which is an increase of 150 percent from the days when the university was first adopted for the Top Global University program. The number of inter-university agreements concluded is now 343, which has seen an increase of 200 percent since I was inaugurated. As for overseas bases, the number has now grown to have 18 bases in 15 countries/regions. 

Furthermore, HU was adopted for the WISE (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education) Program in 2018. HU intends to support the WISE program so that it develops into a world-leading innovation center together with the Center of KANSEI Innovation at the Kasumi campus. I think that we need to actively invest more resources into other promising centers at HU.

Starting with the establishment of the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life and the Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, reorganization of Graduate Schools is to be rolled out from this academic year. HU should not waste any time in enhancing its environment for research and education by recruiting world-class researchers and talented international students.

I intend to turn the Higashi-Hiroshima campus into a world-class research center for science/engineering, by developing an international exchange center with accommodation facilities and venues where cultural exchange and social interaction can take place. Currently, a trial is underway of 24-hour opening of Hiroshima University Library (HUL). While receiving fund from the government, and also by actively allocating some of “Research Funding Granted by HU President,” I would like to enhance as much as possible a learning environment at HUL from this academic year. In collaboration with Higashi-Hiroshima city, I also intend to streamline the traffic network of the city by establishing a transport node for bus connections near the campus.

My aim is to develop an urban-type Higashi-Senda campus, which functions as a research and education center for new fields related to humanities and social sciences. T his campus will specialize in not only education research on and dissemination of peace, but it will also contribute to energize local communities through adult education and collaboration with local companies.

As Kasumi campus is regarded as a research hub for cutting-edge medical technology and Biomedical and Health Sciences, the university intends to develop a Medical Science Research Park, which will include a Translational Research Center.

With the national universities in Japan facing annual cuts in Management Expenses Grants and coping with an increase of dependency rate for competitive funds, it is no exaggeration to say that they are in crisis. Hence, it has become necessary for each national university to come up with a system which can deal with such developments. With its base on “Funding to improve HU and to energize local communities of Hiroshima” and collaborative or endowed research laboratories jointly established with companies, HU intends to make diligent efforts to acquire external funding. 

For HU to be included in the National University Corporation System, it will only be possible to realize such a goal if all HU members are united to address the challenge. I believe that now is a crucial period for the university. Reforming HU is something that cannot be implemented according to a sole initiative of the executive board; instead, I believe that such a goal may only be achieved through close communication between all members of HU. In that context, the roles played by the head of each Faculty become more important than ever, since he/she is responsible for communicating the messages from the executive board to each faculty member, and vice versa. Every year, I also pay a regular visit to each HU School, explaining the current situation to those present and exchanging opinions with them. I regularly hold faculty meetings with a number of Special Assistants to the President in order to listen to their findings and frank opinions. Although of course it is not possible to listen to everybody’s views, I do make sure that I set some time aside for office hours or to chat, for example with students in the university canteen. I endeavor to take these various opinions into account as much as possible within the context of making swift decisions which are objectively optimal for the university.

As global competition among universities becomes fierce in the face of a declining birth rate in Japan, the public expects national universities to be increasingly innovative. At the same time, calls for a stronger management function at national universities are becoming more vociferous. Meanwhile, “Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2018” and “Growth Strategy 2018,” both of which have been approved in Cabinet meetings, point out the need to integrate incorporated institutions for the purpose of enhancing the research and education function and management base.

Following these approvals, MEXT compiled a final report in January this year entitled “Review meeting regarding the system of setting up one corporate body comprising more than one national university.” The report says that “By integrating some national universities into one corporate entity, we can expect to enhance its presence and ability to disseminate information in society, and at the same time it can focus on promoting management renewal and university reforms among national universities in Japan.”

As with the case of the integration of Nagoya University and Gifu University in which a new unified entity was set up to manage more than one university, the movement towards re-organizing national universities is becoming more active. I would like to undertake necessary preparations and reviews, to ensure that HU would deal with the situation well, should it arise.

Wang Xizhi, a Chinese writer who lived during the Liu-chao period, bequeathed the following words: “Future generations will look upon us just like we look upon the past”. Therefore, we too should not forget about this “Backcasting” perspective, which is a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future, and then works autonomously towards the set goal.

In order to realize a “University of world-wide repute and splendor for years into the future”, I intend to fulfill my responsibility as President with my whole body and soul, by learning from the past history, including predecessors, of HU. My goal is to keep on improving the environment of HU, so that the faculty and administrative members will say, “We are glad to have worked at HU”, and students will say, “We are glad to have studied at HU,” from the bottom of their hearts.

I ask all of you for your continued understanding and support. Let us unlock the future of Hiroshima University together.

Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University


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