Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2019.10.1

Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2019.10.1

 On behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on your entrance to Hiroshima University. I am very pleased to welcome all of the 324 new students enrolled at Hiroshima University who gather here today. I also would like to offer my congratulations to your families and other significant people, who have supported you all the way.

 Usually, at this time of the year, if you walk through the Higashi-Hiroshima campus, you will come across maple trees, ginkgo trees, and zelkova trees turning red and gold. However, changing colors of autumn leaves is largely incomplete this year because of the continuing summer heat in September. Soon, you will be seeing many aquatic birds migrating from Eurasia taking a temporary rest in the university’s pond. Among the national universities in Japan, I strongly believe that our campus is one of the richest in terms of its nature.

 With the founding principle of “a single university, free and pursuing peace”, Hiroshima University was founded in 1949 on the ground of Hiroshima, which was completely ruined by the atomic bomb. Our university is literally a “university of peace”. Upon my inauguration as the President of Hiroshima University, I initiated the university’s mission statement, whereby it aims to “cultivate peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.” Last year saw the launch of a “Peace Lecture Marathon”, where government representatives from overseas countries or ambassadors in Tokyo are invited to give a lecture on peace. The idea behind this event is to realize the importance of peace and to pass that down from one generation to the next. So far, international guest speakers such as Lithuanian Prime Minister and Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research have been invited to give a lecture presentation for the purpose of engaging students in face-to-face dialogues with the speakers.

 Hiroshima University is also a global university. Indeed, it has been selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as one of the universities in Japan which is deemed capable of being ranked within the Top 100 universities in the world. Now, the total number of international students at Hiroshima University is about 3,000 year-round. This has been made possible by the implementation of degree programs that can be offered in English, and by doing our utmost to recruit talented students from overseas countries including those from China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Compared with the number of international students four years ago (that is when I was appointed as the President of HU), the present total is an increase of 150%. In addition, the university welcomes international students with disabilities.

 I had the opportunity to meet President el-Sisi of Egypt at TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development), which was held in Yokohama at the end of August this year. I feel honored that I was probably the only university president in Japan to have secured a meeting with the Egyptian President during the conference. In the meeting, the President said to me, “I would like to offer my active support to exchange programs between Hiroshima University and universities in Egypt.” Meanwhile, HU will facilitate a couple of issues such as sending some faculty members to El Galala University, which is currently under preparation for its launch in Egypt, as well as hoping to annually receive about 100 students from Egypt.

 From this year, Hiroshima University has embarked on reform of its Graduate Schools. The gist of the reform is to reduce the number of existing Graduate Schools down to four or five, by reorganizing the original 11 Graduate Schools. Following the launch of the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life and the Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences this April, two more Graduate Schools are to be established next year by integrating existing Graduate Schools related to the fields of humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary fields on the one hand, and by integrating those related to the fields of science and engineering on the other hand. These new Graduate Schools aim to cultivate individuals equipped with both in-depth specialized knowledge and cultured knowledge with a broad mind. This is difficult to achieve in the vertically divided traditional organizations.

 I would like all of you enrolling here today to be able to play active roles on the global stage in the future. In order to bring this to fruition, I would like you to possess a strong will and passion to make this world a better place, by devoting yourselves to research and practice at HU. Hiroshima University has all the requisite resources to help you in this quest.

 In July this year, Dr. Tasuku Honjo, the awardee of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, came to Hiroshima University to deliver his speech during the ceremony for the launch of new Graduate Schools. You may be interested to know that Dr. Honjo’s motto is「有志竟成(ゆうしきょうせい)」, which originates from an old Chinese history book. It means “If you have a strong will, you can certainly achieve your set goals.” I also would like you to bestow these words of Dr. Honjo’s motto on you today.

 Now, I would like you to take the first step into a brilliant future. Please rest assured that we will do our very best to support each and every one of you in your campus life so that you will tell us: “It has been great to have studied at HU!” when you finish your studies here.

 For some who are here today, this may be your first visit to Japan, and naturally you may be feeling a bit nervous as well as having some high expectations of your campus life here. You may be pleased to know that Hiroshima University has a one-stop support station to deal with your problems. Please feel free to discuss anything that is troubling you in your campus life.

 Congratulations once again!

1st October 2019 (Reiwa 1)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University