Autumn Term Entrance Ceremony 2022.10.1
Welcome to Hiroshima University.
It is my great pleasure to welcome all of the 298 new students to Hiroshima University on this autumn day. I am very happy and reassured to see your faces up close, full of hope and aspiration, including those of international students.
The world is now facing two prolonged crises: the COVID-19 pandemic with the new appearance of several mutant strains, and Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine which has exceeded six months. Domestically, as you know, the economy and people’s livelihoods have been severely affected by soaring energy and food prices.
Given such global circumstances, it is quite natural for you to have ambivalent feelings: looking forward to your campus life, while also harboring feelings of anxiety.
Hiroshima University, where you are about to start your studies, has overcome many adversities in the past. The greatest challenge was the atomic bombing on 6th August 1945. Many of the predecessor schools and affiliated schools in Hiroshima were burnt down or damaged, and students, faculty and administrative members fell victim to the bombing. Four years later, Hiroshima University opened its doors to the public on the arid land of Hiroshima. Thanks to the tireless efforts of its forerunners, it has made a full recovery and has grown into one of the leading comprehensive research universities in Japan today.
Please now take a look at the flag of Hiroshima University at the front of the stage. The green and phoenix leaves on the emblem symbolize fresh life and rebirth. The concept of ‘pursuing peace’ is part of our university’s DNA. Likewise, since I took up office as university President, I have been consistently committed to the task of ‘cultivating individuals in the pursuit of peace, with a global mindset and challenging spirit’.
In the wake of the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, Hiroshima University was the first university in Japan to immediately raise its voice in protest and to issue a message from the university President calling for urgent peaceful solution. We have also started accepting Ukrainian university students. Furthermore, Hiroshima University is currently engaged in one of the largest national support programs for its former international students now living in Afghanistan, which has its own ongoing humanitarian crisis. Hiroshima University is endeavoring to evacuate 74 people and their families to Japan.
The 17th century Dutch philosopher Spinoza wrote: ‘Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.’ With the exception of Justice, I completely agree with him. The meaning of Justice can change from individual to individual, and from affiliation to affiliation. In my role as university President, step by step I will continue to fulfil the mission of Hiroshima University to realize a free and peaceful international society, contributing to the well-being of humanity.
A year has passed since the opening of the new international exchange center, ‘Hiroshima University Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA’, on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus. I hear that the center is almost always bustling with students. I hope that everyone feels free to drop by and make use of it as a place for exchange and innovation. Meanwhile, near MIRAI CREA, classes have already begun at The Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative. It is the first of its kind among Japan’s national universities. Please take every opportunity to study to your heart’s content on campus, the environment of which is truly global in substance and reputation.
At Hiroshima University, a wide range of opportunities is available to help you maximize your potential. However, it is up to each and every one of you to open the doors to these opportunities. In the process, please remember to think about the WHYs and the HOWs. Of course, HU faculty and administrative members do their utmost to work together to support you, so that you will feel ‘glad to have studied at Hiroshima University’.
Hiroshima University is a world-class university that is committed to resolving social issues, both on a local and global scale, including carbon neutrality. Our university is ranked in the top 100 in five of the 17 SDGs in the ‘Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2022’, which indicates the social contribution of universities. Let us move forward together with our heads held high towards the 75th anniversary of foundation as well as the 150th anniversary, if we count the period of the 75 years of its pre-founding history, in two years’ time.
Congratulations once again.
1st October 2022 (Reiwa 4)
President, Hiroshima University