Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2019.4.3
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 as the President of this university and one of its alumni. I would like you to express your gratitude to your families and to those related to you who have given you support and encouragement on numerous occasions.
It is now less than a month before the Crown Prince of Japan is enthroned. The era of Heisei is coming to an end, and a new era of Reiwa begins. How wonderful for you to be starting HU in this commemorative year. I would like all of you to be proud of having been enrolled to HU from today.
This year marks a milestone for HU as it is the 70th anniversary of HU since its foundation.
Hiroshima University was established on Hiroshima land that was completely destroyed by the atomic bomb. Mr. Tatsuo Morito became the first President of Hiroshima University after resigning from his position as the Minister of Education. He was the author of our university’s founding principle: “a single unified university, free and pursuing peace.” 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, and so on. One of the origins of HU goes back to Hakushima School, which was founded in Meiji 7 or in 1874.
While maintaining such tradition, Hiroshima University intends to cultivate “peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.”
New students are required to take “Peace-related subjects,” which include the topics of War, Conflict, Nuclear Disarmament, Poverty, Environment and Religion, among others. Students are encouraged to analyze and think about peace from these points of view. Through these subjects, I hope that you will learn the importance of peace and discover what you can do to contribute to the realization of world peace.
In addition, from mid-April we will be launching a series of special lectures entitled “Spread your wings around the world with a Liberal Arts education.” We have invited a range of notable public figures as guest speakers. They include Dr. Kenichiro Mogi, Brain Scientist, Dr. Yuji Ikegaya, Professor of the University of Tokyo, Mr. Saburo Kawabuchi, first Chairman of the Japan Professional Soccer League, and Ms. Michie Nakamaru, an opera singer, who will be performing in the mini-concert today. I am certain that the talks of these excellent lecturers will provide you with inspiration and guidance for when you encounter unexpected problems in future.
HU currently has about 15,000 students in total, including about 2,000 international students from 74 countries/regions. The university is one of the 22 universities in Japan, which has become part of the Program to Promote the Enhancement of Research Universities, and one of the 13 Type A (Top Type) universities under the “Top Global University Project.” In addition, the university’s “The Frontier Development Program for Genome Editing” was one of the 15 programs of 13 universities that was adopted by the WISE (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education) Program, with HU being the only one in the Chugoku-Shikoku District. This goes to show that the research quality at HU is highly regarded by MEXT.
While the advancement of scientific technology can drastically improve people’s quality of life, there has been a growing concern about the negative impact of such development on health and safety. Typical examples of such concerns include the development of nuclear weapons, or “the birth of the genome-edited baby” in recent years; the latter is seen as a development which has promoted an increase in distrust of cutting-edge technology. HU intends to maintain an open dialogue with the public, while squarely dealing with the safety and ethical issues of new science and technologies.
What follows is a part of the statement from the “1st Conference for Scientist in Kyoto” held in 1962. Japanese scientists, including the Physics Nobel laureates Dr. Hideki Yukawa and Dr. Shinichiro Tomonaga, called for this conference in Kyoto, with a view to creating an era of peace for the world.
“Science has always contributed to humankind by discovering truths that underly the world in which we live. However, not everything that is technologically feasible in science is desirable for human beings. For scientific discoveries to serve only the wellbeing and peace of humankind, then everybody including scientists must make a perpetual effort to prevent misuse and abuse.”
More than half a century has passed since this statement was made, but surprisingly it does not sound outdated even today. I would like to commit this statement to the hearts and minds of those present here today who are about to become students at HU.
Precisely because we are living in an age of revolutionary change, I believe it is necessary for everybody at HU to consider both “how” (the methods) and “why” (the reasons). All members of the Executive, of the various faculties and of the administration at HU are keen to unlock the future of our university by moving forward hand in hand with you all to bring about a “University of world-wide repute and splendor for years into the future.”
By wishing all of you a fruitful and enjoyable student life ahead, I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech today.
3rd April 2019
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University