Degree Conferment Ceremony 2012.3.23
Today I would like to give my deepest congratulations to all of the graduating students of Hiroshima University. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on the celebration of this year’s ceremony on behalf of Hiroshima University. I also would like to congratulate the parents and relatives, and express to you my deepest gratitude for your continual support of our university. Furthermore, I would like to thank all of our honored guests for taking the time to be here with us at the degree conferment ceremony today and for your cooperation and your assistance to our university.
Now, let’s look back on some of the major events which happened during your time at Hiroshima University. We saw amazing progress of academic research manifested by the return of “Hayabusa”, the discovery of new living organism and the possible existence of the Higgs Particle as a base substance of mass, environmental pollution and energy problems, continued financial instability in Europe, the surge of democracy drive in the Middle East and North Africa, and each year’s bad news about cold waves, earthquakes, floods and other man-made and natural calamities occurred one after another. Above all, we were struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th, a disaster that had a severe impact not only on the afflicted areas but also on the whole of Japanese society. We should never forget this experience. We must work together, as individuals and as a nation, and dedicate all our strength to the restoration and resurrection of the devastated regions. It is assumed that a complete recovery will take many years.
Human society is changing very quickly, becoming more and more diverse and complicated, and we need to build a future society with new values.
Under these circumstances, the young people who will shape our future society need the basic skills of behaving themselves as proper members of society. In other words, as members human society young people need “the power to make their own judgments and survive.” Therefore it is necessary to cultivate intellectual abilities, physical capacity, emotional strength, flexible judgment, and tolerance to accept other people.
We have always emphasized the importance of attempting bold challenges because we believe that you will learn more from the defeats or setbacks you may encounter after taking a bold challenge, rather than from merely a resulting successful experience. I believe that you will all continue to seek for high ideals and have the courage not to be afraid of failure.
Last year, Professor Osamu Shimomura, the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, had a lecture at Hiroshima University. He discovered aequorin, a fluorescent substance in the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria, which came to play an important role as green fluorescent protein in a variety of biological analyses and lead to great development research, but it took approximately 30 years to achieve that result. At the beginning it was a brilliant fundamental discovery, it became established as applied research, and then it took many years and dedicated efforts to go from discovery to a contribution to human society. On the way to excellent research and achievements that contribute to development of humankind, a strong spirit to “never give up” until your plan is accomplished and the courage to overcome difficulties are essential.
Human society continues to communicate, transcending national borders, and we are advancing our activities to a global scale. In this age of fierce global competition it seems to me that the Japanese are going to be less represented. I wish that all of you, who graduate or complete your studies today and go out into the world, will understand Japan’s extraordinary art and tradition handed down from our ancestors, that you will acquire strong personal qualities, and that you will act with pride and self-awareness as Japanese. Edward Sylvester Morse, who visited Japan in 1877 and discovered the Omori Shell Mound, praised the Japanese people’s strong personal qualities, and said that the Japanese seem to naturally have moral standards like kindness, virtue and character; subjects of onerous moral lessons in his home country. He wrote that simple elegance of wardrobe, well-organized homes, clean surroundings, love for nature and natural objects, stylish and fascinating art, courteous behavior and warm-hearted consideration for others are qualities not only shared by members of the upper class, but also by the impoverished. Furthermore, according to the BBC Country Rating Poll of 2011, Japan was second out of 17 countries, following Germany, among the countries most widely viewed as having a positive influence on global society. The Japanese people should be proud to be rated so highly, and I hope that you are able to keep the strong personal qualities and good behavior of the Japanese to meet the expectations of our increasingly globalized society.
I wish that each of you who are graduating or completing your studies today and going out into the world, look ahead to the future without forgetting your pride and self-awareness as a Japanese. Keep the high ideal of “contributing to human society” and go one big step further. I hope that you grow into mature personalities strong enough to overcome all the future hurdles in your lives.
As you embark on new chapters in your lives, I pray that the roads ahead lead to bright futures, filled with promise and hope. Congratulations.
March 23, 2012
President, Hiroshima University