(April 5, 2023)
I am delighted to be able to continue to serve as President of Hiroshima University (HU) from 1st April 2023. Since I became the 12th President of HU eight years ago, I have been working to manage the University by focusing on both its globalization and reform, with the aim of cultivating ‘peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit’ under the ‘spirit of pursuing peace’, which has always been the cornerstone of HU.
With regard to internationalization, the Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative, was launched last summer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enrolment has been somewhat limited, but we expect this to gradually increase in the future. HU has been promoting cooperation with overseas universities. It has concluded inter-university agreements with 381 overseas universities and has established 23 overseas bases; both figures are about 2.5 times more than those before I came to office as President. With these agreements in place, I would like to create a good environment in which students and researchers are encouraged to come and go.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, HU had more than 1,800 international students, and 845 students from HU went abroad to study; I intend to increase both of these trends into the future.
Since English is an international language, I strongly believe that it is very important for people who are globally active, to be able to communicate in English with people from different cultural and historical backgrounds. The English language skills of HU students have been rapidly improving, as shown by their TOEIC scores. In fact, the number of students with a TOEIC score of 730 or above---the standard for studying at overseas universities---has reached 20% for the University as a whole and 40% for the School of Medicine.
In order to attract not only international students but also researchers from overseas, HU has built the Hiroshima University Phoenix International Center MIRAI CREA, with the support of Higashi-Hiroshima City. It has space for exchange with citizens and also many apartments for researchers to live in.
As for the reform of the University, I made the decision to create the Academy of Hiroshima University seven years ago. Previously, decisions concerning faculty members were made by each department, but now all university employees are appointed via the Academy. This has enabled us to appropriately allocate more personnel to the new schools as well to carry out human resource development. Thanks to this initiative, six years have passed since the establishment of the School of Informatics and Data Science and the Department of Integrated Global Studies at the School of Integrated Arts and Sciences.
While the whole of society is undergoing major changes, we now see new areas of need emerging. In order to respond appropriately to such requirements, the 11 Graduate Schools have been integrated and reorganized into four. From April this year, a research institute---in collaboration with all of the Graduate Schools---is to be launched. It will comprise six research fields, including agriculture, engineering, medicine and economics. The aim is the realization of ‘Society 5.0’, by engaging with endeavours such as smart energy and smart agriculture.
Without the understanding and efforts of the executive board and HU members, we would not have been able to come this far. I am very grateful to you all. However, HU is now at a crossroads, facing the issue of whether or not it can continue to exist as an attractive research university. To survive, I think that the University needs to make further progress in education, research, social contributions, and university reform into the future.
The first issue is the entrance examination. Although the rote-learning of knowledge is a necessary skill, problem-solving education needs to be improved. While continuing to ensure a smooth high school-university transition, I would like to reduce the percentage of entrance examinations based on ‘one-shot’ selection as much as possible. In so doing, I intend to increase the proportion of comprehensive and school-recommended selections.
In addition to fostering high-level information-related personnel, HU will also strive to cultivate faculty members with expertise in the semiconductor field, taking advantage of its geographical location, as the University is located near the production and technology development base of the US semiconductor giant Micron Technology.
At the Kasumi Campus, in addition to the completion of the Ryôun Building (lecture building) at the end of last year, efforts will be made to further enhance basic research, including the decision to relocate the Radiation Effects Research Institute within the Campus. I understand that the School of Medicine and the University Hospital are also rapidly enhancing their clinical capabilities, ranking first in the Chugoku-Shikoku region for the number of top-level papers in the field of clinical medicine, and in the top 10 among 82 universities in Japan.
The School of Law and the Law and Politics Program of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which moved to the Higashi-Senda Campus in April this year, will focus on training legal professionals by collaborating with the Law School. In so doing, I would like to increase the number of students who take the bar exam, and then increase the number of successful applicants.
‘The International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter’ was adopted for the AY2022 World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Having secured large-scale funding of seven billion yen spread over 10 years, HU will invite eleven top researchers from world-leading research institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge University. As the Center is likely to produce world-class research performance, I hope that this will also serve to enhance the research performance of HU.
The Bio-Digital Transformation (Bio-DX) Industry-Academia Co-Creation base at HU is a leading research center in Japan with genome editing at its core. It was selected as a full-scale type of Program on the Open Innovation Platforms for Industry-Academia Co-creation (COI-NEXT) base by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) in AY2022. In addition, HU’s research in the area of brain science and awareness music has been selected for the Moonshot R&D Program by JST. As we have several unique research fields that HU can be proud of, I intend to give these fields my continued and greater support than ever.
In addition to the above, the University is also going to address the following issues from the perspective of peace: food, the blue-ocean research fields (blue ocean is an untapped market with no competition), maritime affairs, and nuclear weapons.
Community-Industry-Academia Collaboration is an important mission for HU, apart from education and research. The University’s Town & Gown initiatives are already under way, which liken the campus to a small ‘town’. As was the case for carbon neutrality and automated driving, HU is also thinking about trying out a car-sharing scheme of electric vehicles on campus, hoping to expand this to the Higashi-Hiroshima City area eventually.
In September 2022, HU was also the only university in Japan to be selected by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for the project of ‘Developing a biopharmaceutical production base to strengthen the vaccine production system.’ The production base is to be established on the Kasumi Campus where investigational medicines are normally manufactured, but in the outbreak of a pandemic, it can be immediately switched to producing vaccines. Development of a dual-use facility such as this on the Kasumi Campus, will guarantee HU’s proactive role into the future.
With the University working as one, I would like to implement these collaborations by working closely with all members of HU.
G7 Hiroshima Summit
During the G7 Hiroshima Summit from 19th-21st May, I hope that the leaders of the seven major nations will fully recognize the horror and tragic nature of nuclear weapons, while taking the first step towards a nuclear-free peaceful society.
HU will also be involved in the organization of the symposium, with the aim of providing an opportunity for young people, the next leaders of peace, to think about peace and what they can do to achieve it.
‘The 75+75th Anniversary of HU’
The 75th anniversary of HU and the 150th anniversary of the establishment of its oldest predecessor school---the Hakushima School---are coming up next year. In preparation for the anniversary, various events are being planned. In order to further expand its wings as a leading university in the Chugoku-Shikoku area, HU will make every effort to ensure that everyone becomes familiar with the role and value of the University.
The 19th century British philosopher J.S. Mill said the following: ‘The moral or religious influence which a university can exercise, consists less in any express teaching, than in the pervading tone of the place.’
I am of the same opinion as Mill. While valuing Hiroshima University’s peace-pursuing spirit, the entire university will move forward, united as one.
President, Hiroshima University