Fall Semester Entrance Ceremony 2016.10.1
The autumnal breeze has started to blow across the campus, causing the rustling leaves on the trees to turn into the beautiful seasonal colours, and us to turn our minds to academic pursuits. As part of the 2016 Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony, I would like to warmly welcome each and every one of the 300 new students gathered here today, and on behalf of Hiroshima University I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt congratulations on the commencement of your studies at your new academic home.
It was on 7th March this year when we invited two Nobel Prize winning researchers to Satake Memorial Hall at Hiroshima University: Professor Shinya Yamanaka from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University and Professor Sir John Gurdon of the Wellcome Trust / Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge. They were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2012. What is more, for the special lecture event scheduled on 29th November this year, we are having Professor Takaaki Kajita from the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR) of the University of Tokyo, who was awarded Nobel Prize for Physics in 2015. During the lectures of Professor Yamanaka and Sir Gurdon, I was moved to see the hall filled to capacity with local students and citizens, leaning forward and listening attentively to the speaker’s every single word. With this in mind, I hope that you will become very proud of Hiroshima University for its exchange initiatives with world-renowned researchers.
It has been 71 years since the first atomic bomb in the history of the human race was dropped on Hiroshima city. This year is special for Hiroshima, as it gained world-wide attention on 27th May when President Obama visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park as the first incumbent American president in history. Mr. Obama placed a floral tribute in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and then he made a speech in which he globally disseminated his desire for a world without nuclear weapons. Hearing this speech, I felt that we took a new step towards world peace.
Four years after the calamity of the atomic bomb, Hiroshima University was established in 1949. As a university, Hiroshima University has unique qualities not seen in other national universities in Japan: Its clear-cut founding principle states that it is “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace.” Indeed, this was one of the focal points of Mr. Tatsuo Morito’ s inaugural opening ceremony speech, as first president of Hiroshima University after resigning from the position of the Minister of Education. More specifically, he established the following goals at the heart of Hiroshima University’ s principles:“…to serve as a key player among the universities in the Chugoku-Shikoku District” along with “…to intrinsically be a university with both regional and international characteristics.”
Indeed, this latter aspect has come into contemporary focus with the very popular usage of the term “glocal” which is a combination of the two words “global” and “local.” The motivation behind this coined word is of course the encouragement to “think globally, act locally.”
A similar concept was already present in Mr. Morito’ s writing more than 60 years ago: “Think from global perspectives, while taking actions on the spot.” We are amazed and inspired by his foresight.
It was Mr. Morito’ s ex-tutor from the First Higher School in Japan, Dr. Inazo Nitobe, who very much influenced the formation of Mr. Morito’ s framework of thoughts. Known world-wide as the author of “The Soul of Japan,” Dr. Nitobe excelled in the area of world peace by serving as the then Undersecretary General of the League of Nations, a predecessor organization of the United Nations.
What follows is Dr. Nitobe’ s own words on the topic of “international characteristics:”
“As each of us was born and brought up in a different environment, it is natural for each individual to have a different way of thinking as well as different perceptions. It is important for us to recognize and accept such differences between individuals, so as to allow ourselves to have a broader mindset.”
Needless to say, globalization often requires good communication skills in English. However, in order to communicate at a much deeper level with people from other countries, we not only need to understand cultures from other countries, we also need to cultivate a mindset that enable us to accept each other willingly. According to Dr. Nitobe, this is what it takes to possess genuine international characteristics. In the modern world, where regional conflicts and acts of terrorism never seem to cease, thoughts like Dr. Nitobe’ s and one of his successors, Mr. Morito’ s, are highly valued and respected. Hence, it is incumbent upon Hiroshima University to produce “peace-pursuing cultured individuals with international experience.”
This August, a book entitled “Can Hiroshima University be in the Top 100 Universities in the World?” was published from a bookseller PHP. I should imagine that some of you have already read it. As you may already know, Hiroshima University has been selected as one of the 22 institutions by MEXT in Japan to take part in the “Program for promoting the enhancement of research universities” and is therefore now renowned as a “research university.” Also, among the universities from the Chugoku-Shikoku District, Hiroshima University is the only one to have been selected by MEXT, as one of the 13 universities, to take part in the “Top Global University Project,” the selection was on the condition that it “provides a world-class research and education facility”. Hiroshima University’ s selection for these two MEXT projects provides special impetus to be placed among the top 100 universities in the World University Ranking within 10 years. Needless to say, in order to be ranked within the top 100 Universities in the world, Hiroshima University needs to make a considerable effort and show true determination, both of which are intrinsic to the university’s spirit.
Finally, I would like to talk about the importance of a liberal arts education. When you are faced with unexpected challenges in your life, you need to possess skills to work something out by yourself. I am certain that such skills cannot be acquired overnight, and that they can only be cultivated in the process of continual thinking based on a broad knowledge across many fields. I am proudly aware that some of you here today are very likely to be future world leaders. As Steve Jobs said, “...the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” So, I would like you to have a strong will to change the world as well as to have backbone to add something innovative to the world you live in. I can assure you that Hiroshima University can provide you with the environment to achieve such goals. Please take bold steps into the future with your head held high.
With our common goal to make Hiroshima University a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future,” we can join hands into the future, embodying the catch phrase “Ene Hirodai! (it means “Nice Hirodai!)”.
Congratulations once again!
1 October 2016
President, Hiroshima University