Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2023.4.3
I would like to extend my congratulations on this auspicious day to 3,919 students who have enrolled at Hiroshima University.
Following the ease of COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for approximately the last three years, I am extremely pleased to be able to welcome all new undergraduate and postgraduate students to this venue to celebrate the wonderful occasion of the spring semester entrance ceremony.
Some of you may have had a difficult time in high school or elsewhere due to the various COVID-19 restrictions. As President of Hiroshima University and also as one of its alumni, I would like to express my sincere respect to all of you for overcoming your hardships and for successfully achieving your ambitions.
At the same time, I would like you to remember to express your gratitude to your families, teachers and others who have supported you.
Now that you have become students of Hiroshima University today, I would like you to familiarize yourselves with the history and present-day status of the university.
Hiroshima University was established in 1949, four years after the atomic bombing, on the present Higashi-Senda Campus. Since then, the ‘spirit of pursuing peace’ has been handed down from generation to generation as the unchanging identity of Hiroshima University.
In the year or so since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Hiroshima University has provided support through on-campus fundraising and by accepting evacuated students from Ukraine. We need to continually question and act on what mission we should fulfil as a university in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima. I think that we must never stop thinking about it, even if it does not come to fruition in a tangible form.
Newly enrolled HU students are required to take ‘peace-related subjects’ where you are expected to learn peace in relation to war, conflicts, nuclear disarmament issues, hunger, and the global natural environment. I would like to encourage you to think about peace in these contexts.
Hiroshima University has now grown into one of the leading comprehensive research universities in Japan, with 12 Schools, 4 Graduate Schools and one research institute across three campuses, namely Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, Kasumi Campus and Higashi-Senda Campus.
As for research projects, in 2018 Hiroshima University’s ‘The Frontier Development Program for Genome Editing program’ was selected by MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) for its WISE (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education) Program. What is more, last autumn, the ‘International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter (SKCM2)’ was adopted as a World Premier Research Centre Program (WPI) by MEXT. These are the first of their kinds among universities in the Chugoku-Shikoku region.
An object is said to be chiral if the object and its mirror image are asymmetric in such a way that they are non-superimposable, just like our right and left hands. For example, by creating a structure with only a right-hand image, it is possible to create substances with properties that have not so far existed on Earth. Using the properties of chiral, we can pave the way to solving global problems by developing, for example, completely new materials with super-insulating properties.
In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, HU was also the only university in Japan to be selected by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for the project of ‘Developing biopharmaceutical manufacturing sites to strengthen vaccine production.’ The manufacturing sites will be established in the Kasumi Campus. It has also been decided that Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) will move to the Kasumi campus, which is expected to further enhance basic research. With the University Hospital providing advanced, cutting-edge medical treatment, the Hospital is steadily achieving results, ranking 1st in Chugoku-shikoku region as well as ranking in the top10 of 82 universities with medical schools in Japan, in terms of the number of top-level papers in the field of clinical medicine.
At the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus with green surroundings, efforts are underway to become carbon neutral by 2030, twenty years earlier than the national target, in collaboration with the local Higashi-Hiroshima City, Sumitomo Corporation and other leading companies. Furthermore, the Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative opened on campus last summer. This is the first overseas university to be established on the campus of a national university in Japan.
The Higashi-Senda Campus is the birthplace of the university in the center of Hiroshima City. Apart from the existing Law School there, the School of Law and the Law and Politics Program of the Graduate Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences are to be relocated to the Higashi-Senda Campus from Higashi-Hiroshima this month, where 660 students will begin their studies.
As you can see, Hiroshima University is moving forward with dynamism. Coupled with a wonderful history spun out by our predecessors and a blessed environment, all the faculty and administrative members at HU will do their utmost to support each and every one of you so that you can devote yourself to your studies in good health and with peace of mind. I hope that you will study with pride, confidence, and a sense of responsibility as a student of HU.
In recent years, the term ‘taipa (time performance)’, rather than ‘kosupa (cost performance)’, is said to be gaining popularity amongst Generation Z. I hear that ‘taipa’ stands for time performance and is a way of using time as effectively as possible. In today’s busy world, it may be perfectly natural for people to try to acquire knowledge quickly by fast-forwarding through videos or by using websites that give you the gist of a topic.
However, the world is now faced with challenges that still have no ‘easy solutions’, such as climate change, natural disasters, poverty and discrimination, as well as infectious diseases and war. When faced with such unknowns, will the knowledge obtained through the spirit of ‘taipa’ really be sufficient?
Dr. Albert Einstein is one of the most famous physicists of the 20th century. Among the many famous sayings he left behind, I would like to quote the following:
‘Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.’
This is precisely what study at university is all about. I believe that it is important to continue asking yourselves the whys, rather than simply being taught the hows that can get you the right answer. In other words, it is about continuing to think for yourself, while learning from the experience and wisdom that humanity has cultivated throughout its long history. And, please bold enough to give everything a go. By taking on challenges, the ruts you make after driving a car, for example, or the sailing waves that form after a ship has sailed, are living proof that you have lived in full.
Next year, Hiroshima University will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation and the 150th anniversary of the founding of its oldest predecessor school, the Hakushima School. I hope that I will be able to move forward with you all towards realizing a ‘University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future’.
Finally, as you embark on your university life, let me wish each and every one of you fulfilling days ahead.
3rd April 2023 (Reiwa 5)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University