Commencement Ceremony 2023.3.23

Commencement Ceremony 2023.3.23

I would like to extend my congratulations to the 3,611 people who are leaving Hiroshima University today. On behalf of Hiroshima University, I am extremely pleased to be able to welcome you and your families to this venue for the first time in four years. Let us celebrate this wonderful occasion of the AY2022 commencement ceremony together. 

For many of you, your student life has been at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may recall a time when you had to wear masks both on and off campus, when almost all classes were conducted online, and when restrictions imposed by state of emergency declarations had a big impact on extra-curricular activities and social gatherings. There must have been days when you were alone at your desk staring at the computer screen, thinking to yourself that this was not what you signed up for, and perhaps even feeling like you were on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

As the President of HU, I would like to pay my heartfelt respects to all of you who have overcome these hardships and made it to this day. Also, I would like you to remember to express your gratitude to your families, your supervisors, seniors and juniors, who have supported you through thick and thin during this trying period.

Tomorrow will mark one year and one month since Russia launched its military invasion into Ukraine. While concerns are expressed by many countries about it becoming a long drawn-out war and about Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons, Hiroshima University has been engaged in on-campus fundraising and accepting evacuee students from Ukraine. Under such circumstances, we must continually ask ourselves what mission we should fulfil as a university in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima. I believe that we must not stop thinking, even if that does not actually result in any actions.

Immanuel Kant, known as the founder of modern philosophy, published his work ‘Perpetual Peace’ when he was 71 years old. The first German edition of the book is stored in the Hiroshima University Library and is considered a classic of peace theory.

Kant set out six preliminary articles for perpetual peace. The fifth of these states that ‘no state shall violently interfere with the system or governance of another state’ and the sixth states that ‘no state shall, in war with another state, engage in hostilities which would make mutual confidence in future peace impossible’.

More than 200 years after its publication, Kant’s tenets have not shown any sign of fading; in fact, his sharp insight into war and peace never ceases to amaze us. When the current international situation, including the invasion of Ukraine, is put into context based on his arguments, I must say that the international community is now facing a formidable challenge as to how to deal with the unreasonable acts of other countries.

The G7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima from the 19th to 21st May this year. The effect of the G7 leaders’ visit to Hiroshima, the actual site of the atomic bombing, will be to stimulate an exchange of thoughts on peace. Indeed, I sincerely hope that steady steps will be made towards realizing a world which is free of nuclear weapons. As a university ‘pursuing peace’, HU is fully determined to fulfil its mission.

As part of such a mission, HU will make special contributions to the G7 Hiroshima Summit Commemorative Symposium organized by the Yomiuri Shinbun on the 15th April, entitled ‘Towards a Nuclear Weapon-Free World: The Path to Safety’, where experts from Japan and abroad will gather in Hiroshima City.

From 25th to 27th April, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international NGO, will hold the Hiroshima G7 Youth Summit, which is co-organized and jointly implemented by HU at its Higashi-Hiroshima Campus as the main venue. I am going to invite young people and students from G7 countries and around the world to Hiroshima, so that they can learn about the inhumane aspects of nuclear weapons and discuss with each other how the world could move towards nuclear disarmament. Through that process, I hope that they will grow into the next-generation peacemaking leaders.

From now, let me briefly talk about the present and future of Hiroshima University. A bus stop, ‘Hirodai-Chuoguchi’, and its adjacent areas on the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus, have been transformed into a new transport node, creating a mobility hub where the university and the city of Higashi-Hiroshima intersect. The node was launched on 18th March. Last August saw the launch of the Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative on the campus. Following that, HU began accepting students in earnest.  This April, the Law School and the Law and Politics Program at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences will move to the Higashi-Senda Campus, the birthplace of Hiroshima University. At the Kasumi Campus, a new lecture building, the Ryôun Building, was launched towards the end of last year. With the decision to relocate the Radiation Effects Research Institute to the Kasumi campus finalized, I am convinced that the campus will be further enhanced as a center for training medical professionals.

As for research, HU’s proposal of an ‘International Institute for Sustainability with knotted Chiral Meta Matter’ was selected as a World Premier International Research Center (WPI) in October last year by MEXT. Although 16 years have passed since the launch of the WPI project, HU is the only university to have been selected for it in the Chugoku-Shikoku region. By inviting top-level international researchers, including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, HU would like the Institute to be a ‘Knowledge Hub’ where it fosters human resources capable of creating science and technology, of leading a sustainable society, and of disseminating research outcomes to the world.

Next year, 2024, Hiroshima University will celebrate its 75th anniversary since its launch under the new system and the 150th anniversary of the founding of its oldest predecessor. We take this milestone as the ‘third opening’ of the university, and pledge to make a great leap forward as a comprehensive research university representing the Chugoku-Shikoku region, both in name and in practice, with a view to becoming a ‘University of World-wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future..’

It is clear that some of you will start working, some pursuing your studies further, and some starting a new business. Whichever path you may take, I would like you to be confident and proud of being graduates and alumni of Hiroshima University, boldly taking up any challenges you may come across.

In closing, I would like to quote a few words from Kant, mentioned earlier, who defined the following precursor principles to wisdom:

  1. Think for yourself; 
  2. Think in everyone else’s place;
  3. Think in unison with yourself at all times.

Once again, I would like to congratulate you on this occasion.

23rd March 2023 (Reiwa 5)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University