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Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2021.9.17

Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2021.9.17

On this auspicious occasion of the Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2021, on behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt congratulations to all the 345 students who are graduating today.

I am sure that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused all kinds of disruptions to your student life, including your studies, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs. Some of you may not have been able to return to your home countries during the holidays. I would like to express my heartfelt respect and applause to all of you who overcame such hardships to celebrate this day. At the same time, I would like you to remember that this achievement would not have been possible without the understanding and support of your families, friends, seniors, and juniors.

Now human beings are being faced with many daunting challenges. Although more than one and a half years have passed since the first case of COVID-19 was reported at the end of 2019, there still seems no signs of an end to the pandemic. So far, more than 220 million people have been infected worldwide, while the total death toll exceeds 4.6 million. In Japan, a total of 1.65 million people has been infected, and more than 17,000 people have died so far, and the number is still rising.

Hiroshima University was one of the first universities in Japan to address the issue of workplace vaccination against COVID-19; it has successfully administered both doses of the vaccine to all the students, faculty, and staff (amounting to about 20,000 people), who wished to be vaccinated. Fortunately, there have been no major clusters of COVID-19 on campus, which I believe is due to the effectiveness of the vaccination as well as the efforts of each and every one of you to prevent infection.

Global warming, which causes natural disasters such as torrential rains and extreme heat, is another urgent issue that transcends national borders and threatens human security. Hiroshima University has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the government's target of 2050. 2030 is also the target year for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, and Hiroshima University is committed to leading the way in the world.

Furthermore, we cannot overlook the violations of human rights and freedoms caused by civil wars and international tensions. Since last month, there have been reports of chaos in Afghanistan following the collapse of the government and the withdrawal of US troops. As there are many current and former students of Hiroshima University in Afghanistan, the University has hastily set up a “Special Task Force”. By cooperating with international students, we intend to gather information and provide maximum support to current and former students who are trapped in the country. As a university of peace, it is the mission of Hiroshima University to foster diversity and to contribute to the creation of a free and peaceful international society.

Three years from now, in 2024, Hiroshima University is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation. After the atomic bombing, it was said that “not a single plant or tree would grow in Hiroshima for the next 75 years”, but the city has now recovered beautifully and has become an international city of peace and culture, verdant and prosperous. Since becoming President of Hiroshima University, I have been committed to “cultivate peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.” Today marks the first step towards your future life, and I sincerely hope that you will ask yourself what you can do for peace and play an active role on the global stage.

Finally, I would like to conclude my farewell speech by pledging that Hiroshima University will continue to do its utmost to support you, as you take your first steps towards a promising future.

17th September 2021 (Reiwa 3)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University