Happy New Year everyone! Please allow me to say a few words, to mark the beginning of 2022 (Reiwa 4). I sincerely hope that this year will bring an end to COVID-19 pandemic, a stable world free from natural catastrophes and regional conflicts, and a great year for you and your family.
It has been two whole years since the world saw the first signs of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new variant, the Omicron strain, has been confirmed one after another in Hiroshima Prefecture and across the country following the raging Delta strain, the situation remains unpredictable. Hiroshima University has had a total of 121 students and faculty/administrative members as confirmed COVID-19 cases, but there have been only sporadic outbreaks since mid-November last year. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all students and faculty/administrative members for their awareness and behaviour, in addition to the effectiveness of the vaccination program, which the University took the initiative to implement.
The year 2022 is the year of the Tiger in the eto animals (Eto refers to the 12-year zodiac cycle, which represent the different years in a 12-year cycle originated in China). According to the ancient Chinese theory of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements, it represents “the year of buds after a harsh winter and the foundation for new growth”. For Hiroshima University, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in two years’ time, this year will be “a year of both challenges and leaps forward”, when buds begin to sprout and grow extensively.
April this year will see the commencement of HU’s 4th Mid-term Objectives Period. As shown in the discussion of “Defining how Hiroshima University should be during the 4th Mid-term Objectives Period”, the University will build a world-class education and research center that puts into practice the new philosophy of peace science, “Science for Sustainable Development”. Furthermore, HU will undertake a role in regional co-creation as an intellectual hub that links local communities with the international community. The University also pledges to do its utmost to carry out its mission of “cultivating peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit”, who will contribute to the realization of a free and peaceful international society that nurtures diversity.
The symbol of such commitment is the “MIRAI CREA (Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA)”, Hiroshima University’s hub for international exchange, which opened on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus in October last year. I am delighted to see it thriving as a place of residence for researchers and students from overseas, and as a place of communication open to both students and the local community.
Located in the corner of MIRAI CREA are two offices for “Global Campus” and “Regional Co-creation”, in which the “Arizona State University Office” and “Town & Gown Office” have already started their operations, respectively.
The Arizona State University/Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management-Hiroshima University Global Initiative, will finally begin accepting students in August 2022. Prior to that, in April this year, HU is going to offer an intensive foundation course for students, as preparation for a university education in English. We would like to provide high school students, who are unable to study abroad due to COVID-19, with the opportunity to receive an education at one of the world’s leading universities.
As for the “Town & Gown” initiative---a collaboration between the University and the local city of Higashi-Hiroshima, HU will disseminate a new model for creating innovations to solve local problems by forming partnerships with leading companies including Sumitomo Corporation, Softbank and Fujita Corporation.
The “Carbon-Neutral x Smart Campus 5.0 Declaration” announced by the University, the first of its kind at universities in Japan, is in line with this trend. In response to the Declaration, during AY2022, solar panels will be installed on the roofs of the buildings and in the car parks on campus, followed by the installation of a geothermal air conditioning system and a series of social experiments using automated vehicles and 5th-Generation mobile communication systems.
Meanwhile, the Higashi-Senda Campus, located in the center of Hiroshima City, will be positioned as a center for the humanities and social sciences with a focus on legal training. The School of Law as well as the Law & Politics Program of the Graduate School of Law, will be relocated to there, with the aim of starting lectures in April 2023. The Kasumi Campus will be further developed as a center for the training of medical professionals. By making the best use of the characteristics of the three campuses, HU is determined to lead the revitalization of the region as this is one of its missions.
In the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 catastrophe, humanity has taken on a number of challenges, with the help of scientific expertise. In particular, it is no exaggeration to say that the messenger RNA vaccine, developed by Dr. Katalin Karikó and her colleagues using innovative technology, has saved the world.
During the Cold War, Dr. Karikó emigrated from Hungary to the United States, where her research life was not as fortunate as it might have been. However, the commercialization of a vaccine was achieved by her team in just one year, which is a remarkably short time and was only achievable thanks to her diligence.
Dr. Karikó once said: “When you have a challenge, you think about how you can overcome it, in the pursuit of your dream. It is important to love what you're doing.” My own motto in life has always been “dreams and passions”. As we start the new year, I would like to take Dr. Karikó’s words to heart and set my goals high for the year ahead.
Lastly, I would like to wish all of our faculty/administrative members, students and their families a happy and peaceful New Year.
4th January 2022 (Reiwa 4)
President, Hiroshima University