Degree Conferment Ceremony 2018.3.23

Degree Conferment Ceremony 2018.3.23

Congratulations to 3,722 of the students who are graduating from Hiroshima University today.
On this auspicious occasion of the 2017 Degree Conferment Ceremony, on behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt congratulations to all of you gathered here today. I imagine that the families and those related to the students graduating must be finding their special delight as well. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to all guests for your attendance at today’s ceremony.

Some of you may remember the occasion when you first came to this venue, Higashi Hiroshima Sports Park, for your entrance ceremony some years ago. I should expect that many memories are going through your head now, including those of happy times during your campus life, and those of tough times, such as revising for and taking examinations as well as completing your dissertations.

At the same time, I would like to offer my congratulations and thanks to your families and other significant people, who have supported you all the way. Perhaps today’s ceremony will instill in you a renewed sense of gratitude.

This year’s Hiroshima University, “Pestalozzi Education Award” has been conferred on Ms. Chikako Nakamoto, Director of the non-profit organization “Tabete Katarō Kai” (‘Eat and Talk Society’), based in Hiroshima city. The award is named after a Swiss educationalist, Mr. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, and it is awarded to those who are deemed to be practising excellence in education. This year marks the 26th year of the award.

About 40 years ago, Ms. Nakamoto started working as a volunteer probation officer for the rehabilitation of criminals and juvenile delinquents. She realized that there was a common theme connecting the children who had become delinquent: none of them had got enough to eat, which left them feeling both hungry and socially isolated. So, Ms. Nakamoto decided to make her house available to these children feeling “nowhere to go,” serving them her home-made dishes every day free of charge. She is still offering this generous and compassionate service today.

With Ms. Nakamoto’s rather relaxed support method and her motto “You don’t need to say what you’d rather not,” caused these children to start opening up their hearts to her, eventually pulling themselves out of delinquency. Apparently, her own father’s words served as her inspiration: “A thoughtful person never expects anything in return.” Always looking directly at reality, whilst simultaneously thinking about what needs to be done, is the epitome of for an educated, cultured person.

I sincerely hope that you will grow into people who will be future leaders in our society. Regardless of your social positions, I encourage you to continue to serve as role models for others.

With the 4th Industrial Revolution exemplified by Artificial Intelligence and robotics, human society is undergoing some fundamental changes. When society encounters unknown challenges never previously experienced, well informed and cultured knowledge is essential, to enables you to think with your head in the search for a solution. Continued attainment of such knowledge is a lifelong endeavour. Interestingly, real knowledge enhancement begins after graduating from university. While maintaining your interests in many things in your life, I do hope that you continue to enrich your worldly knowledge for the rest of your life.

The French philosopher Descartes is known for his expression: “Cogito ergo sum.” (‘I think, therefore I am.’). In “Discourse on Method,” he formulated the following four rules to direct a rational mind appropriately:

The first rule is “Certainty” (Never to accept anything as true which I do not clearly know to be such). The second rule is “Analysis” (Divide difficulties into as many parts as possible). The third rule is “Synthesis” (Proceed from the simplest and surest knowledges to the more complex). The fourth rule is “Listing” (Make the connection so complete, and the reviews so general, that nothing shall be overlooked).

It has been more than 400 years since Descartes formulated these four rules, but their colour has not faded at all over the years. I am certain that they will serve as your “base” for surviving these modern times where it is easy to be overwhelmed by fake news and information of an uncertain nature.

Hiroshima University was established as “a symbol of hope and reconstruction” on the atomic-bombed land of Hiroshima, after having been reduced to ashes. However, it has grown into a highly regarded institution since then to be selected as one of 22 universities for a “Program to Promote the Enhancement of Research,” and as one of the 13 “Top Type universities under the MEXT’s Top Global University Project.” With the School of Informatics and Data Science opening from this April, Hiroshima University is soon to be a university with 12 Schools in total, which is the highest in number among the national universities in Japan.

Therefore, you deserve to be confident and proud of having studied at Hiroshima University. By marking the founding principle of, “the pursuit of peace,” think with your head, and with an active challenging spirit, I wish from the bottom of my heart that you will lead your life with your head held high.

From today, Hiroshima University will be your Alma Mater. Please visit your home campus from time to time. Indeed, I look forward to seeing you grown into a confident individual in the future.

I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech today, by wishing every one of you a fruitful and enjoyable future life.

23rd March 2018 (H30)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University