Commencement Ceremony 2024.3.23

Commencement Ceremony 2024.3.23

I would like to extend my congratulations to the 3,701 students who are graduating from Hiroshima University today, ready to face the world. On behalf of Hiroshima University, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of the AY2023 Commencement Ceremony. I know that your families, friends and loved ones are extremely happy for you.

As we all know, you have spent much of your university life in the midst of the new COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the pandemic, the entrance ceremony that year had to be cancelled, and all classes had to go online. For many days, you might have been alone at home or in your room, staring at the display on your mobile PC or other devices. That meant that you probably lost the opportunity to talk with friends or even make friends. So, it must have been a relief for you to finally get back to your daily life in May last year.

As the President, I would like to pay my heartfelt respects to all of you who have worked so hard during this period of difficult time and have made it to this auspicious day. Meanwhile, please also remember to express your gratitude to your families who have supported you on your sunny days and rainy days, as well as to your academic advisors and your friends.

Currently, the future of the world looks uncertain as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been continuing for more than two years and the war between Israel and Hamas has been going on for almost six months. At such times, universities should be considered to be the greatest masterpieces in human history for showing the way forward. I am convinced that the role of universities will become increasingly important in the future. Especially for this university, which was established in Hiroshima, the world’s first city to suffer an atomic bombing, there is a constant need to explore what can be done towards achieving peace in the world.

In his book ‘People’s Peace’, the Norwegian peace scholar Johan Galtung, who passed away last month, wrote, ‘It is necessary to convey positive and affirmative messages, in other words, messages of proactive peace.’ Galtung not only opposed all kinds of wars, but also called for peace through future-oriented ideas, such as creating mechanisms to help prevent unnecessary conflicts and streamlining an environment that facilitates such mechanisms. While there may be different opinions on the details of his opinions, I believe many of you would probably agree with his statements above.

The G7 Hiroshima Summit held in Hiroshima last May saw many summit-related events and provision of support by our students, who were working in a volunteer capacity. In my opinion, these serve as the first step towards realizing the positive effect of Galtung’s endeavors for peace, as the summit was held for the first time in the atomic-bombed city. The relocation of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation---an institution conducting research on the effects of radiation on the human body---to the Kasumi Campus in AY2025, will also mark a milestone. Upon relocation, we will do our utmost to make further contributions to medical care for hibakusha and world peace.

As you have studied at Hiroshima University, there is a book that I would like you all to read. It is entitled ‘The Demon’s Legacy’, written by Hiroyuki Agawa. He was an ex-student at the old Hiroshima High School, which is the root of the university’s School of Integrated Arts and Sciences. The book is an objective, bird’s-eye view of the people living with the aftereffects of the atomic bombing in the city of Hiroshima soon after the bombing. The novel also provides insights into the attitudes of the Hiroshima citizens of that era towards the atomic bombing. It also makes us reconsider what war, atomic bombs, and peaceful daily life are really all about.

Some of you may have attended the reading of A-bomb-related poems by actor Sayuri Yoshinaga held last November. She shook the souls of many audiences, including mine. I believe that learning about the tragedy of the atomic bombing through poetry and novels will help to clarify our own thoughts on peace.

Next, I would like to update you on recent developments at Hiroshima University. May 2023 saw the launch of the ‘US-Japan Semiconductor Partnership’ between US semiconductor giant Micron Technology Inc. and 11 US and Japanese universities, including Hiroshima University. We will be committed to promoting cross-border industry-government-academia collaboration in the areas of research and development of new semiconductors and workforce cultivation. In December 2023, the university was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for the ‘Program for Forming Japan’s Peak Research Universities’. This is expected to help boost our cutting-edge research and development at the International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter---the world’s only institution of its kind. Similarly, it helps boost our cutting-edge research and development in the areas of semiconductors, biotechnology and other fields, using synchrotron radiation.

With a view to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, an energy management project using photovoltaic panels and EV cars has also been launched at the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus in collaboration with Nissan Motor Corporation. The development of an investigational drug manufacturing base, the only one adopted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for universities, is going to be in full swing at the Kasumi Campus. Meanwhile, last April saw the relocation of the School of Law and the Law and Politics Program of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences to the Higashi-Senda Campus in Hiroshima City, where some 1,000 students are currently studying. This is the ideal environment, since the judicial and administrative agencies and institutions are located nearby. The relocation has also played an important role in revitalizing the city’s central area. In this way, Hiroshima University continues to take on challenges across all research and education areas.

The experience of studying and talking with friends at the university will become something you can treasure for the rest of your life. During my first year as a doctor, I came across a medical trainee from the USA. We became such close friends that I started to invite him to my parents’ house for the summer holidays. In his later years, he continued to refine his expertise and is now Professor and Vice-President at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. Our ongoing friendship eventually led to the launch of inter-departmental exchanges between our two universities. Although extremely rare, one of our students was able to participate in a clinical placement at the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As they often say, ‘The doors of life are opened by somebody else.’ So, please be grateful for any encounters which you may have or will have with other people and make sure to cherish these relationships.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the new Hiroshima University in 1949, and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Hakushima School, the oldest predecessor school of the university. I hope that you will take pride in having studied at this highly prestigious university. I also hope that this experience empowers you to embrace all future challenges which you may encounter.

Once again, congratulations on your graduation today.


23rd March 2024 (Reiwa 6)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University