Fall Semester Entrance Ceremony 2017.10.1

Fall Semester Entrance Ceremony 2017.10.1

I would like to warmly welcome each and every one of the 286 new students  enrolled at Hiroshima University and gathered here today. On behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on your entrance to Hiroshima University. At the same time, I would like to offer my congratulations to your families and other significant people, who have supported you all the way.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is from the first verse of “To Autumn” by  British poet, John Keats. The morning mists of our Higashi Hiroshima campus, with its trees turning red, gold, and green at this time of the year, exactly fits the world described by Keats. In order to guarantee you a fruitful and incident-free campus life, Hiroshima University is committed to making an all-out effort to support each and every one of you here today.

Hiroshima University had nine predecessor schools, the most of any of Japan’s national universities. One of the predecessors of Hiroshima University, Hakushima School, was founded in 1874. In 1949, four years after the dropping of the atomic bomb, Hiroshima University was established as a national university under a new system. From there, 143 years of history have led to what is Hiroshima University today with a founding principle to be globally proud of: "a single unified university, free and pursuing peace." This was declared by Mr. Tatsuo Morito during the inaugural opening ceremony, as he became the first president of Hiroshima University after resigning from the position of Minister of Education. It is important to know that this founding principle has been passed down from generation to generation as “the pursuit of peace.”

It was in the year 1932, one year before the Nazi regime came to power, that physicist Albert Einstein and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud exchanged letters on the topic of war. In response to Einstein’s question “Why War?”, Freud pointed out that human beings are aggressive by nature, and he gave the following reply: 
“…yet perhaps our hope that these two factors―man’s cultural disposition and a well-founded dread of the form that future wars will take―may serve to put an end to war in the near future, is not chimerical.”

Eighty-five years have passed since their correspondence, but unfortunately no world peace has been realized yet. At the time of my inauguration as President of Hiroshima University two years ago, I set out on a mission “To cultivate peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.” Also, in April this year, Hiroshima University drew up its SPLENDOR PLAN 2017, which is a long-term plan for the next ten years. This plan describes the mission of Hiroshima University, which entails the university both aiming to establish “Science for Sustainable Development” as its new philosophy of peace science and playing a role in realizing a diversified, free, and peaceful global society. Once again, I am aware of the seriousness of the mission.

Next April will see the birth of a new School and Department at Hiroshima University: the School of Informatics and Data Science and the Department of Integrated Global Studies at the School of Integrated Arts and Sciences. The former aims to cultivate data scientists, who are capable of coming up with possible solutions by manipulating and analyzing massive amounts of data as well as data processing specialists, who are equipped with skills and techniques for processing vast amount of data. The latter aims to provide all classes in English to home students and international students, whereby it intends to nurture students’ skills to challenge a wide range of global issues including problems concerning tourism, peace, and the environment.

With the arrival of a highly information-based society, exemplified by keywords such as Big Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence), the world has witnessed significant changes recently. As we are living in turbulent times, I feel it is incumbent upon everybody to improve our competency in information literacy and to polish up our English communication skills. I would like to advance reforms at HU even further by using the establishment of a new department/school as leverage.

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 can only be cultivated in the process of continuous 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. I would like you to acquire a strong will and passion, so as to make advancements on the frontline of research. Indeed, this in turn will make the world a better place, even if just step by step. Hiroshima University has streamlined the environment to cater for such students with will and passion. Please take brave steps into the future with your head held high.
Congratulations once again!

1 October 2017

Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University