Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2024.4.3

Spring Semester Entrance Ceremony 2024.4.3

I would like to extend my congratulations on this auspicious day to 4,067 students who have enrolled at Hiroshima University.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which continued for more than four years, has finally subsided. As President and as one of the alumni of Hiroshima University, I am extremely pleased that we are able to welcome all of you and your families to this venue on this memorable day. At the same time, I hope that you will remember to express your gratitude to your families and friends, who have always supported you up until today, while also retaining this gratitude into the future.

It was more than half a century ago that I entered School of Medicine at Hiroshima University, leaving my home town in Ehime Prefecture to move to Hiroshima city. At that time, the remnants of the university conflict could be seen. I can still remember everything as if it were yesterday: I was a newcomer in an unfamiliar city, spending everyday full of both anticipation and anxiety. You are probably all feeling the same as I did. To help make you feel at home, let me give you a brief introduction of Hiroshima University. Excuse me for singing the praises of home, but you will soon find out for yourselves how wonderful our university is!

Firstly, Hiroshima University stands on a long history. The university was established in 1949, four years after the first atomic bombing in human history. Although this year marks its 75th anniversary, the university actually has 75 years of pre-history in the form of nine predecessor schools, including Hiroshima Normal School and Hiroshima University of Literature and Science. The oldest one, the Hakushima School, was founded in 1874, six years after the Meiji Restoration. Today, you are about to take your first steps into your campus life, in the year that the university is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Secondly, our university is renowned as a ‘university of peace’. Indeed, one of its guiding principles is ‘the pursuit of peace’, which has been passed down and cultivated from generation to generation in the past. As such, all undergraduates are encouraged to take one of the elective ‘Peace Subjects’, to think about what can be done for peace, addressing topics such as war, nuclear issues, the environment, hunger, poverty and so on.

Thirdly, the university is one of the leading comprehensive research universities in Japan, with 12 Schools, 4 Graduate Schools and 1 Research Institute. For example, the university’s proposal entitled the ‘International Institute for Sustainability with Knotted Chiral Meta Matter’ was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for the ‘World Premier International Research Center Initiative’. Likewise, ‘The Frontier Development Program for Genome Editing’ at Hiroshima University was selected for the Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education. Our proposal and program above were the only ones among the universities in the Chugoku-Shikoku area to have been selected. The Institute has brought together enthusiastic researchers from all over the world, who are engaged in cutting-edge research and development to save the planet.

Finally, the university is proud of its diverse and global learning environment. For example, newly enrolled students at Hiroshima University attend an event called ‘Lecture by Special Instructor’ where leaders in a variety of fields such as science, the arts, sports, and business give special lectures. The event starts from next week. One of the lecturers is Ms. Michie Nakamaru, whose singing of the national anthem of Japan you have just heard. A TOEIC score of 730 or above is the English language requirement for entry into overseas universities. The percentage of Hiroshima University’s student body to achieve this comprises 22%, and in the medical field, it reaches 41%. In addition, the University also offers a wide range of unique study-abroad programs whose durations vary from short- to medium- to long-term. Whichever program you may choose to participate in, the University covers part of the costs. So, I encourage you to maximize the opportunities to develop your language skills during your undergraduate time at our university.

Turning to global current affairs, Russia’s 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.
In addition to the trials of democracy, the world is facing climate change and natural disasters such as frequent earthquakes and typhoons. As such, a challenging future awaits you. However, it is precisely during times like these that the world awaits individuals like you, who will acquire a comprehensive education and specialized knowledge at Hiroshima University.

The following passage is found in the Chung-Yong, one of the Four Books of the Confucian scriptures: ‘Study it extensively, inquire into it accurately, think it over carefully, sift it clearly, and practise it earnestly’. If it is just an answer you are after, today’s interactive AI will provide you with a model answer instantly. However, what is important for human beings is the series of processes involving your mind and body entailing the following cycle: start with learning, ask questions, think, discern, and act. This is because only human beings are capable of going through such cycle.

Learning at university is not about easily finding the right answer to a given problem. In the real world, there may be several answers to a given problem, or sometimes there may be no solution at all. In order to deal with difficult social issues, you need to get into the daily habit of asking yourself not only how to solve a problem, but also why such a problem arises, and to approach the issue from various angles, including historical backgrounds.

To achieve that, please first think carefully about what you want to study at our university, and then delve into various works, including the classics from the East and West. I would also like you to make lifelong friends through, for example, extracurricular activities on campus, while also making opportunities to talk with your seniors and teachers, and actively taking on a variety of challenges.

Hiroshima University is now destined to become your alma mater. Hiroshima University will support you in every way possible. So please be confident and proud of yourselves, and take on everything. I would like to conclude my words of congratulations by wishing you a fruitful and rewarding time at Hiroshima University.


3rd April 2024 (Reiwa 6)
Mitsuo Ochi, President of Hiroshima University