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Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2022.9.20

Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2022.9.20

On this auspicious occasion of the Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2022, on behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt congratulations to all the 290 students who are graduating today. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the international students here today, whose academic achievements are all the more significant because of their tremendous efforts to overcome many difficulties. At the same time, the invaluable contribution and support of family, friends, and other significant people, should never be forgotten.

In the 2020s, as fellow members of the human race, we are faced with two serious crises: a pandemic and a war.
The first crisis, the COVID-19 contagion, has already been with us for more than two and a half years, since the pandemic first began. However, there are still no signs of an end in sight, and the cumulative number of infected people worldwide has exceeded 600 million, with more than 6.5 million people having passed away.
Another major crisis is Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, which began in February this year. Six months have passed since the war began, but along with the increasing number of civilian casualties in the protracted fighting, including children, there are growing fears both of radioactive contamination due to the shelling of nuclear power stations, and of the explicit use of nuclear weapons.
I cannot help but have real concerns about these two ongoing crises. I am afraid that the longer they continue, the more people will lose interest in them. I am afraid that Japan is no exception to this.

Initially, we were inundated with media coverage of the COVID-19 catastrophe and the invasion of Ukraine. However, even though the situation has not yet come to an end, the frequency and volume of coverage have been recently in decline.
The 19th century German philosopher Schopenhauer said the following:
‘Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the center of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the true point at which it can remain at rest.’
Schopenhauer’s words of warning may well still apply today, with the proliferation of untruthful information and discourse via the Internet, especially on social networking sites. As you are about to leave the university, I hope that you will not be misled by a flood of information, but that you will rather examine it with independent minds, and consider the crisis based on your own deliberations.

In February this year, Hiroshima University was quick to express its protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on its website in the form of a presidential statement. Currently, the university is accepting Ukrainian students. Meanwhile, it has also started to provide aid to former international students and their families from Afghanistan, where the humanitarian crisis continues. As a university which upholds the ‘Pursuit of Peace’ as its first guiding principle, I believe that this is a mission that Hiroshima University should naturally fulfil.

Apart from war and infectious diseases, natural disasters such as floods and heat waves also pose a major threat. It is no exaggeration to say that global warming poses a security risk not only to humans but also to other forms of life.

Against this backdrop, in January last year, Hiroshima University announced the ‘Carbon Neutral x Smart Campus 5.0 Declaration’ to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2030, 20 years ahead of the government target. Furthermore, in August this year, an action plan was set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70% from the AY2013 level by AY2027. Hiroshima University will boldly take up the challenge of realizing a decarbonized society, in order to hand down a green planet to future generations.

With regard to the internationalization of the university, The Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative, the first national university designated as a foreign university in Japan, has opened on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, with classes having started in August. Coupled with the MIRAI CREA, a facility for international exchange that opened previously, Hiroshima University is expected to develop into a global campus where individuals with a diverse range of backgrounds can gather together, transcending differences in language and culture.

From today, all of you are alumni of Hiroshima University. You may be interested to know that this May, the HU Alumni Association Indonesia Chapter was established as a model for overseas alumni associations that aims to create new values through the collaboration between overseas alumni, industry, academia and government. We intend to continue to expand our activities both at home and overseas. We look forward to seeing many of you joining our future activities.

In two years, Hiroshima University is celebrating the 75th anniversary since its foundation and the 150th anniversary since the founding of its oldest predecessor school, the Hakushima School. As you are about to make a departure into the future as ‘peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit’, I would like to conclude my farewell address by pledging that we will move forward together, to continue to make Hiroshima University a ‘University of World-Wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future.’

20th September 2022 (Reiwa 4)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University