Commencement Ceremony 2022.3.23
I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the 3,629 people who are graduating from Hiroshima University today. On the occasion of the AY2021 commencement ceremony, I would like to congratulate you on behalf of Hiroshima University, expressing my sincere pleasure at having been able to share an important period of your lives with you at Hiroshima University.
It has been more than two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. I should imagine that you have been through some hard times, which probably have caused considerable distress. As President of the University, I would like to pay my heartfelt respect to all of you, who have continued to study and engage in extra-curricular activities without giving up, enabling your presence here today.
Throughout your studies, whether directly or indirectly, your families have supported you. So, today is a good opportunity for you to express your gratitude to your families, relatives and friends. It would have been really nice if they could join us for today’s ceremony. However, we had no choice but to abandon such an idea, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I greatly appreciate your understanding on this matter.
I cannot help but comment on the critical situation that the world now finds itself in. Indeed, the reality of the situation in Ukraine is causing many people to feel both frustrated and furious. Since the invasion, many lives of civilians and children have been lost, and it is reported that around 3.5 million people have been forced to flee into the neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova. Moreover, statements implying the potential use of nuclear weapons have been made repeatedly.
As ‘a university pursuing peace’, Hiroshima University was the first university in Japan to issue a president’s message, protesting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling for a peaceful solution, and to launch an on-campus fund-raising campaign for humanitarian aid. At the Hiroshima International Conference on Peace and SDGs 2022, which was held for the first time by the University, a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and a solution through inter-governmental dialogue, from the standpoint of academia, was just issued with the support of participants from 38 countries. Right now, a JICA mission led by Professor Tatsuhiko Kubo of HU’s Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences is in Moldova, conducting needs assessment surveys on emergency humanitarian aid so as to deliver support to the Ukrainian refugees and her neighboring countries.
What is now required of the international community is not military force, but rather to continue searching for a way out through wisdom. It is my sincere hope that you will also be close to the hearts of those who have been caught in the crossfire of war, and that you will consider what you can do for peace and act accordingly.
Indeed, you all have a bright future ahead of you. Some of you may find a job, some of you may go on to graduate school, and some of you may start up your own business. Whatever path you may take, I believe that first and most, the important thing for you is to be aware of your role as a citizen with common sense and culture, contributing to society in your respective places.
Furthermore, instead of settling for the status quo, take on the challenge of reaching for higher goals. I hope that some of you will go on to become leaders in Japan or overseas. Of course, your profession or job is not the only challenge you may face. It is also important to volunteer and work hard for the community and society as a global citizen. I am convinced that if we have a strong and noble heart, we should be able to overcome any hardship we may encounter.
Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner based in India, who devoted her life to helping people suffering from poverty and disease, had this to say:
‘We must never be afraid to be a sign of contradiction for the world.’
‘We can do no great things, only small things with great love.’
Likewise, you and I may only be able to do a few small things, but let us move forward, believing in the future.
I will now tell you a little bit about the present and future of Hiroshima University.
Last October, the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus witnessed the opening of a new international exchange center, ‘the Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA’, and also the Arizona State University/Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management-Hiroshima University Global Initiative.
In April next year, the School of Law and the Law and Politics program of the Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, will be relocated to the Higashi-Senda Campus, the birthplace of Hiroshima University. The Kasumi Campus will be further upscaled as a center for the training of medical personnel.
In the Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, which shows the social contribution capabilities of universities around the world, Hiroshima University has been ranked in the world’s top 100 in five categories of the 17 SDGs. In 2024, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the new university and the 150th anniversary if the pre-war history of the University is included, Hiroshima University will have the honor of strides as a leading comprehensive research university in Chugoku-Shikoku area, both in name and in reality.
I will do my utmost to fulfil my role as President of Hiroshima University to make our institution ‘university of world-wide repute and splendor for years into the future’. I hope that you too will be confident and proud of having studied at this wonderful university.
Please remember that Hiroshima University will always be your home ground. I look forward to seeing you again in the future as you continue to grow and develop. In closing, I would like to offer you the following farewell message:
I wish all of you a happy and prosperous future.
And may you be the weavers of a free and peaceful world.
23rd March 2022 (Reiwa 4)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University