Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2022.4.3
On this auspicious day, I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate all 3,933 new students enrolled at Hiroshima University.
As President and graduate of Hiroshima University, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations and respect to all of you who have persevered in your ambitions despite the pandemic of COVID-19 lasting more than two years.
In view of this pandemic, we have decided to hold this entrance ceremony with only newly enrolled students participating. We had very much hoped that your loving and supportive families would have been able to attend today’s ceremony, but this unfortunately is still not possible. Please take this opportunity to reflect upon the support and encouragement you have received from your families, your teachers and anybody else involved, and remember them for the rest of your life.
As you have just officially become students at Hiroshima University, I would first like to talk about what kind of institution Hiroshima University is.
On the stage in front of you, the flag of Hiroshima University is displayed alongside the national flag of Japan. The emblem of the university is a graphic representation of ‘fresh life’ in green background, and the ‘phoenix leaf’. Phoenix is also the name of a mythical, immortal creature from Egyptian mythology, which is said to “rise from the ashes with new life”. Based on this mythology, the phoenix was chosen as the symbol of the University’s aim to become the ‘cultural core’ of Hiroshima, which had been reduced to ruins by the atomic bomb.
Hiroshima University was founded in 1949, four years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, on the present Higashi-Senda Campus. Since then, it has always upheld the philosophy as ‘the university pursuing peace’. Indeed, all new students are required to take a ‘Peace Subject’. The reason behind this is to stimulate you to think about peace from a variety of perspectives, including war, conflict, nuclear issues, poverty, hunger and the global environment.
Who would have imagined that Europe, which experienced the horrors of World War II, would once again become a battlefield in the 21st century? Hiroshima University was the first university in Japan to issue a President’s Message, protesting against Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. The ambassador of Oman, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Said Khalifa AL BUSAIDI, whom I met just the other day said, ‘If I were a graduate of Hiroshima University, I would be very proud to be a member of a university that pursues peace.’ When peace is under great threat, I strongly believe that each and every one of us is called upon to think about peace and to act accordingly.
People these days expect universities to have three major areas of responsibility: education, research and social contributions.
In terms of education and research, Hiroshima University was selected as one of the 13 top universities in Japan for the ‘Top Global University Project’ in 2014, and in 2018 was selected as one of the 13 universities in Japan for the ‘WISE Program’: the ‘Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative and Smart Education’. Hiroshima University was the only university selected for both projects from the Chugoku-Shikoku area.
As for social contributions of the University, they are evident from the ‘Impact Ranking 2021’, which evaluates the social contribution capabilities within the framework of the SDGs. Hiroshima University was ranked in the top 100 in the world in five categories of the 17 SDGs. Needless to say, it is ranked among the best universities in Japan.
The Arizona State University/Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management-Hiroshima University Global Initiative, was established on the grounds of the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus. As you can see , Hiroshima University has long history and a privileged environment that have been nurtured over many years. Therefore, I hope that you will take great pride in studying at Hiroshima University.
Today, the world is facing numerous challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, poverty and discrimination, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and wars. Many of them are complex, intertwined problems with no easy solutions. What steps should we take when faced with unprecedented situations?
Learning at university is not simply about finding the ‘right answer’. Instead, it is important to ask yourself ‘What is it that I don’t understand?’ While learning from the experience and wisdom that humankind has cultivated throughout a long period of history, you are expected to think for yourself and search for solutions from a broad perspective.
I believe that the key to this lies in the power of the ‘liberal arts’, or of ‘being cultured’. To become an appealing person, it is essential to have specialist knowledge as well as a broad education. I believe that this is something that can be cultivated throughout your life.
I hope that you will spread your wings as ‘peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit’, by developing the habit of thinking carefully, not only about the ‘hows’ (i.e. in what way), but also the ‘whys’ (i.e. reasons behind) of things.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this message, Hiroshima University was founded by integrating the following forerunner schools with different specializations and traditions: Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, Hiroshima High School, Hiroshima Higher Normal School, Hiroshima High Institute of Technology, and Hiroshima Medical College. One of these schools, the Hakushima School (the origin of Hiroshima Normal School), was founded in 1874, less than ten years after the Meiji Restoration. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all here two years before the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima University, or the 150th anniversary if we include the history of the forerunner schools.
For those of you feeling somewhat anxious about starting your student life in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hiroshima University can provide you with a third COVID-19 vaccination on campus. Your good health and peace of mind is of prime importance to us, so all Hiroshima University faculty and administrative members are united in their aim to do their utmost to support you.
Finally, I would like to conclude my ceremonial speech by wishing each and every one of you a fulfilling and rewarding life ahead. Congratulations once again!
3rd April 2022 (Reiwa 4)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University