Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2017.4.3

Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2017.4.3

Today, I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate all the new students enrolled at 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 every one of you to become familiar with the history of the university.

It was 68 years ago, in 1949, that Hiroshima University was established in Hiroshima as a national university under a new system. Hiroshima University had nine predecessor schools, the most of any of Japan’s national universities. These comprised Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, Hiroshima Higher Normal School, Hiroshima Normal School, Hiroshima High School, Hiroshima Higher Technical School, and Hiroshima Prefectural Medical School. Hiroshima Normal School originated from Hakushima School, which was founded in 1874. From there, 143 years of history have led to what is Hiroshima University today. It is this diversity with its inherent strong and well-formed character which has shaped Hiroshima University into its present form.

Along with that, I also would like you to bear in mind the fact that Hiroshima University is a university of peace.

Most of the predecessors of Hiroshima University were located within 1 to 4 km from the epicenter, which resulted in many pupils, students, and the teaching staff falling victim to the bomb. The founding principle of Hiroshima University, “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace,” was proposed by Mr. Tatsuo Morito, who became the first President of Hiroshima University after resigning from the position of Minister of Education. The principle that he established has been passed down from generation to generation. New students are required to take “Peace Related Subjects” with the themes including War, Atomic Bomb, Poverty, Starvation, Population Problems, Environment and so on. I would like you to grow into“peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with international mindset and a challenging spirit” at Hiroshima University.

With 11 Schools and 11 Graduate Schools, Hiroshima University has grown into one of the most prestigious comprehensive research universities in Japan, hosting approximately 15,000 students as well as 1,450 international students from 72 countries or regions. In the FY of 2014, Hiroshima University was the only university in the Chugoku/Shikoku District of Japan that was selected as one of the 13 universities under the Top Global University Project. Since then, it has been making efforts to be ranked within the Top 100 Universities in the world in the next ten years.

So far, we have held two special lecture events and invited three Nobel laureates to Hiroshima University: Dr. Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon last March, and Dr. Takaaki Kajita last November. You may be interested to know that the day after tomorrow, Sir Paul Nurse, who is the Chief Executive and Director at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK, will be visiting our university. This is going to be the third in the special lecture series. He is known for his research into yeast and was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology for his revolutionary discovery of the protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells. Apart from Sir Paul Nurse, in April and May, we will be having more notable public figures from all quarters as guest speakers for the “Liberal Arts Education for Spreading Your Wings Around the World” at Hiroshima University: Mr. Kôsei Inoue (a Jûdo coach), Mr. Seijun Ninomiya (a sport journalist), Ms. Michie Nakamaru (an opera singer, who is also performing a concert at Hiroshima University today). Indeed, Hiroshima University has many researchers who cherish the university’s very cordial relationship with a network of world-famous, top-class researchers. So, I would like you to be very proud of the prospect of being able to study under such excellent researchers at HU.

Last summer, a book entitled “Can Hiroshima University be in the Top 100 Universities in the World?” was launched from a bookseller PHP. Free copies will be given to the parents and guardians who have taken part in today’s ceremony. As described in the book, to be ranked in the top 100 universities in the world, is as good as a promise to establish an excellent research & education hub for the future students of Hiroshima University. Therefore, this important goal is a mission for the university’s current faculty and administrative members. My hope is that this book will appeal to a wide readership, as proof of what HU is capable.

While AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Big Data are transforming our society rapidly, at Hiroshima University preparations are under way to establish a School of Information Sciences (provisional name) in April 2018, as the university’s 12th faculty or School, and a Department of Integrated Global Studies at the School of Integrated Arts and Sciences. In addition to these, reorganization of the School of Engineering is planned. Indeed, we shall continue to advance our university reforms in order to meet the needs of the times.

As previously mentioned, Hiroshima University is aiming to cultivate“peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with international mindset and a challenging spirit”.  Here, merely being able to speak English does not necessarily guarantee that someone is an international person with a global mindset. I feel that it is vital that a university not only focuses on deepening one’s scholarly knowledge in each specialized field, but also that it pursues a broad field of knowledge by providing a life-long Liberal Arts Education. To achieve this, it is essential for you to enjoy a wide range of subjects including art, culture, or philosophy. 

Hermann Hesse, one of the 20th Century’s most distinguished German novelists, wrote the following passage in his work “Demian”:

“The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.”

In the world of Zen (Buddhism), there is a saying “Sottaku-dôji” written as啐啄同時 in Chinese characters. It literally means “simultaneous pecking in and pecking out.” The first character of the saying reads “sotsu,” which is the sound of a chick pecking its way out of the shell. It comprises two components, which stand for “mouth” and “graduation.” As for the second character, “taku,” the same character is used in the name of Takuboku Ishikawa, a famous Japanese poet. It means “the sound of the mother hen pecking at the shell in response to the pecking of the shell by the chick from inside. It is this synchronized pecking of the chick and the mother hen that enables the chick to emerge into the outside world.

All of you here today have excellent capabilities and distinct personalities. I would like you to prepare for your future during the next four to six years, whereby you “peck” your way out of your shells to emerge into the real world. Both faculty and administrative staff members wish you a trouble-free campus life during your stay at Hiroshima University. They are here, like a mother chicken pecking the egg shell, to support each and every one of you along the way, to guarantee a positive campus experience. We hope to hear comments from you like “I am very pleased to have studied at Hiroshima University” as a token of your satisfaction with, and appreciation of, the university.

In the present world, acts of terrorism and war have become common, while populism and anti-globalism are commonplace. I cannot help but feel quite concerned about the tendency to manipulate the facts and to deny scientific truths. 

I am certain that universities are expected to have a mindset of being even more global and open than ever before. They are indeed renowned as the highest institutions of learning with academic freedom, which fits in with the liberal arts’ line of thinking.. By aiming to be a “University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future,” let’s unlock the future potential of Hiroshima University together. 

By wishing all of you a fruitful and enjoyable student life ahead, I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech today.

3rd April 2017
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University