New Year’s Address (4th January 2023)

A Happy New Year! At the beginning of the year 2023 (Reiwa 5), I would like to offer a greeting. First of all, I hope that life will return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic of the last three years and that peace will come to the people of Ukraine as soon as possible.

Humanity is now on the brink of the biggest crisis of the century including a pandemic of numerous new strains of COVID-19, and an unjust war exemplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With no foreseeable prospect of a ceasefire, an unprecedented energy crisis and soaring food prices are spreading across the world, seriously affecting the economy and people’s lives. Meanwhile, in East Asia, as we know, the situation continues to be unpredictable, with repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea and increasingly aggressive maritime expansion by China.

In such a global context, I ask myself where Hiroshima University and Japan should stand? Hiroshima University was founded in the A-bombed city four years after the first atomic bombing in human history. I somehow think that this new year is going to be a year in which the world will test our strong determination to fulfil HU’s mission to contribute to the well-being of humanity by realizing a free and peaceful international society as a ‘peace-pursuing university’.

In May this year, the G7 Summit of the Group of Seven (G7 Hiroshima Summit) will be held in the city of Hiroshima. As this will be the first summit to be held in the A-bombed city, I hope that the leaders of the world will visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, experience first-hand the horror of nuclear weapons, and communicate this to their own countries when they go home. I also hope that students will use the summit as an opportunity to think about peace and the global environment, and to take action. Currently, preparations are underway by the university to enable students to take part in some voluntary work in the related events of an international student symposium and a Japanese speech contest for international students.

Next year will also mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of Hiroshima University, or the 150th anniversary if we go further back to the establishment of the Hakushima School, one of the forerunner schools of HU. As such, preparations are underway to organize a wide range of anniversary projects. For example, HU will be holding major events not only in Hiroshima, but also in Tokyo and the Kansai area to actively promote the legacy and strength of the university. At the same time, I will oversee further development of HU in line with the anniversary, making the most of each campus’ unique characteristics.

The Higashi-Senda Campus will be developed as ‘a new hub for the humanities and social sciences with the training of legal professionals at its core’. Finally, this April, the School of Law and the Law and Politics Program in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences will be relocated from the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, and classes will begin. A total of about 660 undergraduate and postgraduate students will move from Higashi-Hiroshima. In addition to strengthening cooperation between the School of Law and the Law School, efforts will be made to enhance the educational environment and other improvements by creating opportunities to come into direct contact with a diverse range of people, including legal professionals. Other than that, the campus is expected to be used for many other purposes.

The Kasumi Campus will be developed as a hub for training medical professionals. Classes started at the end of last year in the Ryôun Building, which provides a liberal arts education for the medical and law majors at HU. According to Doctors, Hiroshima University ranked 10th among 82 universities with medical faculties in Japan for the number of articles published in journals, and it ranked within the best 25% in the field of clinical medicine in 2021, while it ranked top in the Chugoku/Shikoku region. I think that being able to write good papers means that the Kasumi Campus has a good medical-care environment. HU Hospital aims to become a more high-level and renowned hospital where patients can receive state-of-the-art medical care, while more talented young doctors will be drawn to for its training potential. This will create the right environment for the Hospital to promote the advancement and revitalization of medical care in anticipation of an era of 100-year lifespans. Project funds for the relocation of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation to the Kasumi campus have been included in the government’s draft budget for the new financial year. If the relocation is realized, it will be of great benefit for joint research and education aimed at clarifying the risks of radiation to the human body.

The main campus, Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, will be developed as a hub for promoting exchanges with domestic students, international students, and researchers from Japan and abroad. Following the completion of the Hiroshima University Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA in autumn 2021, The Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative---the first national university to attract an overseas university---was opened on the campus in August last year. This will be a great stimulus for Hiroshima University students. As HU’s ‘International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter’ has been adopted for the World Premier International Research Center (WPI), we will use it as a model to create an environment that will enable us to invite top-level world-class researchers in science and engineering from Japan and abroad. HU is committed to developing human resources to create science and technology---to lead a sustainable society---and to disseminate the results to the world. HU also intends to contribute to the revitalization of the region through increased entrepreneurship and investment by improving the level of research conducted in Hiroshima Prefecture.

As the 12th President of HU, I have been doing my best for almost eight years since April 2015, devoting myself to laying the foundations for the university so as to realize its long-term vision of becoming a ‘University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future’. I solemnly and humbly accept the fact that the Presidential Selection and Inspection Committee has selected me as a candidate for the next President of HU, which I take as a sign of their confidence in me ‘to fulfil my duties’. I would be happy to hear the opinions of all HU members, on the future direction of our university. Let us walk vigorously the discussed path together in unison. I encourage you to come forward to express your views.

‘Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.’ These are the famous words of the German religious leader Martin Luther. I would like to move forward step by step, fully exchanging opinions with all members of the University, so that HU will become a university that is ‘good to have studied at’ and ‘good to have worked for’. I would like to conclude my New Year’s greetings by pledging that I will be committed to do everything to make HU a university loved by the local community and chosen by the world. Sincerely wishing you and your families a Prosperous and Happy New Year.


4th January 2023 (Reiwa 5)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University