Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2015.4.3
Today, I would like to congratulate all the new students of Hiroshima University.
I am very happy to celebrate here together with you on this memorable day.
I express my sincere respect to your efforts which led to today’s success and to the tireless support of the parents and those related to you.
Just as each human being has its own personality, also universities have their individual characteristics.
Let’s call it “university identity”.
Those who enter Hiroshima University should know our history. Understanding the philosophy of your university helps you to find your position when you face difficulties and challenges during your student life. It is the light that shows you the way.
Now, look at the stage.
Together with the national flag, you can see the flag of Hiroshima University.
The green color symbolizes resurrection. In the center is the crest of our university.
The crest’s design represents new, fresh life and shows a stylized leaf of a Phoenix.
“Phoenix” is also the name of the sacred bird in Egyptian mythology, which was said to “set itself on fire and rise renewed from the ashes”.
Just like this myth, Hiroshima University was reborn out of the ashes of World War II, thus the bird became our university’s symbol.
This crest was established in 1950, when Tatsuo Morito resigned as the Minister of Education and became the first president of the new Hiroshima University.
In November 1950, when the traces of the atomic bomb scarred the city, President Morito held a speech at the university’s establishment ceremony strongly pleading for the realization of "a single, unified university, having a strong desire for freedom and pursuing peace".
We have inherited the above founding principle of our university, and have fulfilled its role as a national university based on the following five guiding principles that has been employed in enhancing academic education:
- The Pursuit of Peace
- The Creation of New Forms of Knowledge
- The Nurturing of Well-Rounded Human Beings
- Collaboration with the Local, Regional, and International Community
- Continuous Self-Development
Comprised of 11 faculties and 11 graduate schools with a number of about 15,000 students, present Hiroshima University has developed into one of the most prestigious research universities in Japan.
In the August before last, Hiroshima University has been selected to be one of 22 facilities to receive support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) as part of the “Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities”. And in September of last year, together with the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, our university has been selected by MEXT for the “Top Global University Project” as one of Japan’s top 13 universities which aim to get ranked in top 100 in world university rankings through world-class education and research activities (Type A). Hiroshima University was the only one selected from the Chugoku and Shikoku regions.
Hiroshima University has commenced walking shoulder-to-shoulder with the "former Imperial Universities", and we place great expectations on the dramatic leap forward.
Now let’s think about the meaning of studying at university.
Economy is going to be global and information technology is spreading into every corner of our society and daily life. Under such circumstances, it surely must be one of your aims to become a cosmopolitan; a person with high communication abilities in English and other foreign languages and to acquire high-level specialized knowledge and technological skills.
However, in addition to that I wish you to become “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience”.
Many of you probably think that “cultivation” is something old-fashioned.
In 2002, the Central Council for Education, which at a time in the past, presided by Morito, replied to an inquiry concerning educational policy in a time of unprecedented globalization, declining birth rate, aging population and informatization mentioning as following: It is important to cultivate the power of “making sure of one’s grounds, setting targets and proceeding towards their realization”.
This is the cultivation which initiates a new era.
It is well known that famous American universities with history and tradition, such as Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have a good balance between humanities courses and science courses and they provide a broad spectrum of general cultural education based on the idea of liberal arts education.
Specialization and segmentation of knowledge is progressing, and it cannot be emphasized enough, that cultivation, the fundamental vision and concern towards society, is extremely important for those who will follow an academic path.
Cultivation is not always directly purpose-adapted from the beginning. It should be regarded as “source of strength that enables us to handle unexpected and unprecedented situations”.
Therefore, I wish that the interests of humanities course students and science course students won’t be limited to their own field of specialization. Science students should read books about humanities, and social sciences and liberal arts students should study literature about science, the driving force of social progress.
I recommend you to read at least ten or twenty books throughout your academic life here.
Read across the board if possible, classical literature, the essence of our civilization’s wisdom and challenge old writing that has stood the test of time.
I want you to be continuously interested in politics, social economy, natural science or technological development and their influence on our society and I also wish you to cultivate deep empathy for artistic culture.
In addition, I would request of you,
“Never lose your spiritual freedom.”
That looks very easy, but in reality it is not.
Independent thinking and free decision is based on the understanding of the wealth of different peoples’ ideas and ways of life. We must cultivate a spirit of tolerance and high sensibility.
Therefore, it is important that you go on studying, work on yourself, make strenuous efforts and take a firm foothold in society.
Otherwise, it may happen that you easily go along with authorities, follow the mainstream or move towards fundamentalism.
It may be more comfortable to “seek shelter under a ‘big tree’”. But this attitude is “brain freeze”, and you are in danger of being misled.
It’s the same in science. When you are absorbed by a certain theory, you are not able to create a new hypothesis.
The most important thing is to question the already established and think beyond.
You should be tolerant toward other peoples’ ideas and ways of life, and you have to go on studying about the nature of freedom. Sometimes, you will be lonely. The attitude of cultivating real spiritual freedom, making your own decision and going your own way is essential not only for the academic world but also for society as a whole.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings upon Hiroshima, a milestone in our history.
The Hiroshima University of Literature and Science and almost all of the other nine predecessors of Hiroshima University were completely destroyed by the A-Bomb.
1,890 students and teachers lost their precious lives, and Hiroshima University was reborn inheriting the victims’ hope for the future and ambition for study. I repeatedly request you to keep the said history of our university and its founding principle "a single, unified university, free and pursuing peace” in your mind.
Entering university, you will meet a lot of new people.
The experiences you gather inside and outside the campus will be useful for your years beyond university.
I congratulate and pray that you, who today took your first step and became part of Hiroshima University, will have a meaningful and fruitful student life.
Since there are 192 students from abroad at the 2015 entrance ceremony, I will briefly give a welcome speech in English.
“On behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to congratulate all the new students here and welcome all of you. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy your new lives as students of our university. At present, our university has about 15,000 students and the founding principle of Hiroshima University is: “a single unified university, having a strong desire for freedom and pursuing peace,” and with its 11 faculties and 11 graduate schools, we have achieved significant development as one of the most distinguished research universities in Japan.
Human society is now existing at a fragile global junction. While we have received a lot of benefits from the development of science, many new problems have emerged such as air pollution, environmental destruction and terrorism.
I strongly believe that the university should function as “ a Base of Knowledge Creation” in order to effectively deal with these problems of human society. Through your student lives at Hiroshima University, I hope that you will become people with a sophisticated global education to contribute to the development of society. I would like to encourage you to try hard to reach your goals, without being scared of making any mistakes and to treat difficulties as challenges. Finally I hope that all of you will have a meaningful and enjoyable student life in Higashihiroshima or Hiroshima city. Once again welcome to Hiroshima University. “
April 3rd, 2015
President, Hiroshima University