A Memorial Address for Hiroshima University Memorial Service for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb 2016.8.6
The anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has arrived again.
To mark this sombre occasion, we are gathered here today at our Hiroshima University Memorial Service for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb. Let us all - families of the victims, as well as Hiroshima University lecturer, student and alumni representatives - pray for the souls of the victims.
In addition, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the victims who lost their precious lives through the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster on 11 March 2011, the Hiroshima Landslide disaster on 20 August 2014, and a series of earthquakes that hit widespread areas from Kumamoto to Oita on 14 April 2016. Meanwhile, my deepest sympathies go to those people who are still forced to lead inconvenient and unsettled lives long after the disasters.
On 6 August 1945, the center of Hiroshima City was turned into burnt ground by an atomic bomb. Most of the forerunners of Hiroshima University were located within 1 to 4 kms from the epicenter, which was in the center of Hiroshima City. As a result, most of these original buildings collapsed with catastrophic damage, while many students, the teaching staff, as well as overseas students from South East Asia fell victim to the bomb.
This year does not only mark 71 years since that fateful bombing, it also marks a new chapter in the history of Hiroshima and the world. The reason is that on 27 May, President Obama became the first incumbent American president in history to visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, where he placed a floral tribute. This was followed by his speech, which globally disseminated his desire for a world without nuclear weapons. Indeed, that speech saw the President take an important step towards world peace.
As you may already know, Mr. Tatsuo Morito became the first president of Hiroshima University when it was founded in the year of Showa 24 (1949), with the founding principle of “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace.” In the year of Heisei 7 (1995), the 9th President, Dr. Yasuo Harada, set the “Five Principles of Hiroshima University” whereby “the pursuit of peace” was placed at the top of the list.
Upon taking up office as Hiroshima University president, I established a slogan which aims to cultivate “peace-pursuing individuals with international experience.” In the modern world we live in, where regional conflicts and acts of terrorism are not uncommon, I strongly believe that this slogan denotes a core mission for Hiroshima University, as a peace-pursuing academic institution.
Back in December last year, I visited Egypt, in order to ratify an MOU (an inter-university exchange agreement) with Cairo University and Ain Shams University, both of which are the largest universities in Africa and the Middle East. Takehiro Kagawa was also present for the signing ceremony. Mr. Kagawa is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan in the Arab Republic of Egypt, and we held a press conference in front of the Sphinx, an event which was reported worldwide by a range of media companies, including NHK World. Such extensive coverage by the media clearly shows respect and anticipation towards Hiroshima University and its global mission for world peace.
Higashi-Senda Innovative Research Center opened this April at Higashi Senda Campus, which is the birthplace for Hiroshima University. The site for the Center was once occupied by the forerunners of Hiroshima University, namely Hiroshima University of Literature and Science and Hiroshima Prefectural Normal School. The plan is for the Center to be used not only for providing a liberal arts education to those students reading medical, dental, pharmacological, and nursing-related subjects from the Kasumi Campus, but also as a hub for adult education. It is deeply moving to see a new initiative of Hiroshima University coming into fruition on this old and familiar site.
It has been 71 years since the Atomic bombing, and this year will witness all 21 bomb victims’ ashes being enshrined in our city’s cenotaph. I pray that the 1,930 departed souls’ ashes, including the 21 enshrined this year, may rest in peace, and also that the bereaved families can find some comfort.
I would like to offer a tribute to the memory of the deceased by pledging our determination to build a peaceful world through the university’s education, research, and contributions to society.
6 August Heisei 28 (2016)
President of Hiroshima University