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Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2023.9.20

Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2023.9.20

On this auspicious occasion of the Autumn Term Commencement Ceremony 2023, on behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to extend my deepest and most sincere congratulations to all the 318 students who are graduating today.

In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the international students here today, whose academic achievements are all the more significant because of their tremendous efforts to overcome many difficulties, despite their uncertainty and anxiety about the different cultures, languages, and lifestyles around them. I would like to express my deepest respect and applaud your efforts. At the same time, the invaluable contribution and support of family, friends, and other significant people, should never be forgotten.

Perhaps, now all the memories of your days at Hiroshima University are coming back to you in a rapid succession of images, like a flickering lantern. Many of you may remember the days when your campus life was severely restricted due to the prevalence of COVID-19. In addition, many of you are probably feeling the pain of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been going on for a year and a half.

Meanwhile, the G7 summit was held in Hiroshima in May this year. The fact that the summit was held in the atomic-bombed city for the first time, combined with the unexpected visit of Ukrainian President Zelensky to the event, attracted the world’s attention. Although opinions differ on the outcome of the summit, I feel that I have found a glimmer of hope in the fact that the leaders of the G7 nations were all able to lay a wreath at the cenotaph for the A-bomb victims, where Tadayoshi Saika, Professor Emeritus of Hiroshima University, inscribed the words ‘Rest in peace, for we will not repeat our mistakes’. These G7 leaders also listened to the voices of the A-bomb survivors, experiencing first-hand the horror of nuclear weapons.

During the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Hiroshima University hosted various events, whilst also supporting and cooperating with other summit-related events. In addition, many Hiroshima University students volunteered to provide hospitality and interpretation services. I believe we were able to demonstrate to the world at large the ‘spirit of peace’ that runs through Hiroshima University.

Since assuming the presidency in 2015, I have focused on the implementation of university reforms as well as on globalization and peace. In terms of university reform, we have consolidated the 11 Graduate Schools into 4, and we have also established a Research Institute where these 4 Graduate Schools work together to provide interdisciplinary studies. By studying different fields of research, students can broaden their perspectives and deepen their research in their specializations. The globalization of the university is reflected in the further expansion of overseas deployment programs and the establishment of the Thunderbird School of Global Management-Arizona State University-Hiroshima University Global Initiative on the Higashi-Hiroshima campus. This initiative of a national university in Japan attracting an overseas university to its Japanese campus is the first of its kind.

Currently, Hiroshima University has 12 Schools, 4 Graduate Schools and 1 Research Institute with approximately 15,000 students, including 1,726 international students from 85 countries and regions. The University also has 23 Overseas Bases in 15 countries and regions, and 402 international exchange agreements between universities in 56 countries and regions. Since I took office in 2015, all of the above figures have increased by a factor of 2.5. I will continue to rise to the challenge of further globalizing the university.

As of today, you are all alumni of Hiroshima University. Last March, we established a new alumni association in Indonesia called the ‘Hiroshima University Alumni Association Indonesia Chapter’, where Hiroshima University works with its alumni in Indonesia to solve social problems and to create new value. I would like to establish similar alumni associations both in Japan and overseas in the future. So, when similar activities are launched in your region or home country, I hope you can join us. Hiroshima University intends to provide firm and continuous support to all its alumni.

Goethe, the 18th century German poet, bequeathed us the following words: ‘It is not enough to know; you must use it. It is not enough to be motivated; one must do it’. In essence, he is saying that knowledge is only valuable if it is used, so it is essential to use that knowledge and put it into practice. I am convinced that the knowledge and education which you have acquired at Hiroshima University will certainly serve you well when you face unprecedented challenges.

The year 2024 is a milestone for Hiroshima University, as it will be the 75th anniversary since its founding, and the 150th anniversary if we include the founding of its oldest predecessor school, the Hakushima School. The theme for the 75th anniversary is ‘Row out into the sea of chaos; go beyond the horizon of creativity’. I hope that you take pride and confidence in what you have learned at Hiroshima University, bravely venturing into the ‘sea of chaos’ and reach beyond ‘the realm of creation.’

Finally, I would like to conclude my farewell speech by pledging that Hiroshima University will move forward together with you. Indeed, we will continue to make Hiroshima University a ‘University of World-Wide Repute and Splendor for Years into the Future’, while you move forward as ‘peace-pursuing, cultured individuals with an international mindset and a challenging spirit.’ Congratulations once again!

20th September 2023 (Reiwa 5)
Mitsuo Ochi
President, Hiroshima University