Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2016.4.3
Today, I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate all new students of Hiroshima University. I am pleased to be able to celebrate this memorable day here with you and would like to express my sincere respect, both for your efforts which have led to today’s success and for the tireless support of your nearest and dearest.
As you embark on your new life at Hiroshima University, speaking as both President and alumnus of Hiroshima University, I would like each and every one of you to know what an excellent university this is.
Comprised of three university campus locations, 11 faculties and 11 graduate schools, and hosting approximately 15,000 students, Hiroshima University is one of the most prestigious comprehensive research universities in Japan. As you may know, the three campuses are: Higashi Hiroshima, which is about 53 times larger than the Tokyo Dome; Kasumi, which specializes in medical courses; and Higashi-Senda, which is where Hiroshima University originated.
In 2013, Hiroshima University was selected as 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”. In 2014, our university was the only university in the Chugoku-Shikoku region to be selected by MEXT for the “Top Global University Project” as one of Japan’s top 13 universities, providing an environment for world-class research and education (Type A). Being one of these 13 exclusive universities suggests that we are deemed to be potentially worthy of belonging to the Top 100 universities which provide world-class research and education.
In terms of its “individual identity” that is not often found at other universities, I think that Hiroshima University is unique in two ways:
First of all, Hiroshima University has nine predecessor schools, the most of any of Japan’s national universities. Hiroshima Normal School, one of the forerunners of Hiroshima University, originated from Hakushima School, which was founded in 1874. From there, 142 years of history have led to what is Hiroshima University today.
These preceding schools have worked to educate not only those in the education world, but also specialists and teaching staff in other fields as well. These schools have turned out many talented individuals across the whole country. Hiroshima University has a proud reputation of being diverse, with a rich assortment of traditions that have changed and shifted accordingly over time. But, despite such diverse elements, our university’s history, spirit, and academic focus coexist harmoniously.
The other unique aspect of Hiroshima University is how it has was reborn, like a phoenix from the ruins after the atomic bombing, developing into a peace-pursuing university. Despite its destruction, which resulted in the loss of countless precious student and teacher lives, just four years after the bombing, Hiroshima University was re-established, growing from the former buildings of the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science.
In December of last year, I visited Cairo in Egypt, in order to finalize an international exchange agreement with Cairo University and Ain Shams University. This visit was broadcasted by “NHK World” and many other mass media outlets. Not only could I feel the strong thirst for peace in the Middle East, where disputes over religion and race continue, but I was also reminded of the fact that Hiroshima University is highly regarded, as a university that recovered from the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack.
As part of its liberal arts education, Hiroshima University requires students to take a course that falls under the category of "Peace Subject". The themes of “Peace Subject” courses include war/conflict, nuclear weapons, poverty, starvation, population growth, the environment, etc. It is our university’s historical background that forms the foundation of such undergraduate courses.
In his 1950 Hiroshima University Opening Ceremony speech, Tatsuo Morito, the former Minister of Education and the first president of Hiroshima University, introduced the founding principle of “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace”. This philosophy continues to be upheld by the university today. I sincerely hope that, as students of this university, you will grow to be “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience”.
You may have heard the big news on February 12 this year that stunned the world. The “gravitational wave”, predicted by physicist Albert Einstein exactly 100 years ago and based on his theory of general relativity, was observed for the first time by an international scientific team made up of members from the United States and other countries. Although I am a complete outsider in the field of space and physics, I am still excited by the prospect that this will lead to a clearer explanation of the origin of the universe.
Another reason for me mentioning this momentous event is that Hiroshima University boasts someone who is related to this news. Hiroshima University has always been outstanding in the field of space research and physics, and such a reputation actually dates back to the time of the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science. During wartime in 1944, the Research Institute for Theoretical Physics (RITP) was established as an affiliated research institute. The founder and the first director of this institute was Yoshitaka Mimura.
In the 1930s, Mimura proposed research on “wave geometry”, as a comprehensive body of theory that would integrate Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity used to describe the macro world with the quantum mechanics which describe the micro world. Wave geometry was introduced by the scientific journal “Nature” and attracted attention from all over the world at the time due to its originality.
The RITP was destroyed and the director Mimura was also injured by the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. After overcoming this setback, it became the affiliated research institute of Hiroshima University in 1949 and published more than 600 papers on theories of space-time, field, cosmology and other topics. It was known to be “a center that played a great role in the promotion and advancement of the theory of relativity research in Japan.”
Mimura passed away in 1965 at the age of 67. He became known for his post-war involvement as a scientist in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons, and for his close friendship with Dr. Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese Nobel laureate.
In Dr. Yukawa’s memorial address to Mimura, he expressed both his admiration for Mimura’s foresight in the development of wave geometry, and his sorrow at Mimura’s passing, saying “His death has made me keenly aware that we must take great steps in order to abolish nuclear weapons from the surface of this earth for good.”
This anecdote shows how our predecessors of Hiroshima University overcame humankind’s first-ever atomic bomb disaster with the strength of their passion for academic research.
The history of Hiroshima University is like numerous streams, which have joined together into a big river to flow into a wider sea. And now, all of you are about to join this body of water. In order to awaken to your present “self”, and in order to realize your future potential, I believe it is important that you know the journey that Hiroshima University has travelled. I am sure that it will serve as guidance, should you encounter difficulties and hardships along the way.
We provide an environment in which each of you may expand your character and capabilities to the fullest. However, learning at a university is not limited to the classroom. Meeting numerous people and gaining various experiences will add nourishment to your life. There are more than 1,300 foreign students from about 70 countries and regions studying at faculties and graduate schools across the Hiroshima University campuses. Through your language and cultural interactions with these students, I hope that you will have the chance to sharpen your English proficiency into a global communication tool.
Swiss philosopher Carl Hilty, who is famous for his writings on “Glück (Happiness)”, mentioned that “The most effective instrument to overcome one's laziness at work is force of habit.” He pointed out that in order to cultivate the habit of diligence: “One should never delay each day’s tasks. One should dedicate the appropriate amount of time each day to work”. It is my sincere hope that you will acquire and stick to this good habit during your student years here with us.
Upon my inauguration as President last year, I introduced the new motto: "University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future." Let’s work together to maximize the future potential of Hiroshima University!
I hope that you all have a meaningful and enjoyable student life ahead of you. Once again, congratulations and welcome to Hiroshima University!
April 3, 2016
President, Hiroshima University