Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2021.10.1

Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2021.10.1

It is my great pleasure to welcome all of the 311 new students to Hiroshima University today, in the depths of autumn. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the students who have overcome the hardships of the continuing COVID-19 global epidemic to enroll at Hiroshima University.

Yesterday, the COVID-19 State of Emergency covering many prefectures including Hiroshima Prefecture, was entirely and finally lifted in Japan. Meanwhile, there still remains concerns for the 6th infection wave of COVID-19 this winter. Understandably, many of you may be nervous, wondering what is going to happen to your classes and other aspects of campus life as well as to a global community and economy.

I think that the current COVID-19 catastrophe has made us realize that throughout history mankind has experienced struggles with infectious diseases. This latest crisis of COVID-19 seems to be testing modern society as to how it should tackle such crisis.

Under the slogan “Never stop learning”, Hiroshima University was one of the first universities in Japan to take action to prevent infection while maintaining classes. In June this year, the University started administering the vaccine to all the students, faculty, and staff, who wished to be vaccinated. Indeed, HU was quick to address the issue of workplace vaccination, and it successfully administered both doses of the vaccine by the beginning of September. The percentage of students to have received both doses of the vaccine exceeds 73%, which is at higher end among universities in Japan. We will continue to work hard to create a safe and secure study environment for students.

While committing ourselves to creating such an environment for HU students, one of our concerns is “an infodemic”. It is defined as “the spread of false and unsubstantiated information through social media and other physical media.” One such example is the post “COVID-19 vaccines can make you infertile”, which has been spread on the social media without anyone scrutinizing its validity.

Such falsehoods bring to mind the relevance of the following extract from Plato’s famous book “The Apology of Socrates”, which is a recorded dialogue of the legal self-defense speech by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates:
“I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.”

What I would like to ask of you on this occasion is “to take a modest stance and to be aware of your own limitation, including areas of ignorance.” Such thinking is completely opposite to being a know-it-all or swallowing blindly what you are taught. As we live in a democratic, open society, flooded with an indiscriminate mixture of information and disinformation, it is vital that we cultivate our own discerning minds by always thinking about the “whys”.

As you may know, Hiroshima University was founded in 1949. Seventy-two years later, it has developed into one of the leading comprehensive research universities in Japan.

This month, we will be seeing the opening of a new international exchange facility called “Hiroshima University Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA”, in a corner of the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus. I hope that students will make good use of this facility as a place where diverse people from Japan and abroad will interact, circulate knowledge and create innovation.

Furthermore, the Arizona State University/Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management-Hiroshima University Global Initiative has been established on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, which is the first overseas university campus established on the premises of a national university in Japan. This Global School will start accepting students from August next year. Hiroshima University also launched its first overseas school, the Hiroshima University Morito Institute of Global Higher Education at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China. We strongly believe that these developments will even further accelerate the pace of internationalisation at Hiroshima University. I would like you to fully explore your studies, and to bravely take on difficult challenges in this turmoil-filled world.

Hiroshima University has been selected as one of the new recipients of the “Support for Pioneering Research Initiated by the Next Generation”, which is a national program that aims to support the research and living expenses of 199 PhD candidates at Hiroshima University. I promise that HU is committed to your full support, so that you will hopefully feel very pleased to have studied at HU.
Congratulations once again!

1st October 2021 (Reiwa 3)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University