2024 Spring Entrance Ceremony

Under the blooming cherry blossoms, the University of Hyogo is pleased to welcome 1,289 undergraduate and 493 postgraduate students, a total of 1,782 new students of rich individuality.

On behalf of the University, I would like to express my respect and congratulations to all of you who have made untiring efforts under the severe restrictions of the new coronavirus disaster and successfully gained admission to the University and graduate schools. I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to your families and all those who have supported you.

Many distinguished guests have taken time out of their busy schedules to attend today's entrance ceremony, including the Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, Mr Motohiko Saito, the Chairperson of the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly, Mr Hyoe Naito, and the Chairperson of the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Mr Makoto Masuyama. We would like to thank all the guests of honour and all the local people who have supported the growth of our young people.

The University of Hyogo was established in 2004 by merging three prefectural universities with solid traditions and strengths - Kobe University of Commerce, Himeji Institute of Technology and College of Nursing Art and Science, Hyogo - and celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It has been 95 years since the founding of the former Kobe Higher Commercial School, the predecessor of Kobe University of Commerce, which has the most extended history. Today, the University is one of the leading public universities in Japan, with six faculties, nine graduate schools, five research institutes and affiliated junior and senior high schools. The number of students and graduate students currently enrolled is approximately 6,800, and the total number of graduates and alums from the three former universities exceeds 70,000.

Hyogo Prefecture, the founding body of the University, consists of the five former provinces of Tajima, Tanba, Harima, Settsu and Awaji from the north and is said to be a microcosm of Japan, as the climate and landscapes differ significantly from region to region.

New students will study at nine diverse campuses scattered across this large area of Hyogo Prefecture. There, they will acquire specialist knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the changing times while sharpening their sensibilities and cultivating sincere and flexible human qualities.

In addition to a diverse undergraduate and graduate structure, the University offers three cross-departmental minors, the Regional Revitalization Education Program, the Global Leader Education Program and the Disaster Reduction Leadership Education Program, as educational program that make the most of the University's unique characteristics. Upon completing the prescribed courses, students are awarded the titles of 'Hyogo Gakushi', 'Community Planner Associate', 'Global Leader' and 'Disaster Reduction Leader', respectively. This is a great way to deepen your interdisciplinary, issue-exploration studies and make friends beyond the boundaries of your department. We encourage you to take up the challenge.

The University has five attached research centers in the fields of policy analysis and social innovation, advanced science and technology for industry, natural and environmental sciences, nursing care for people and community, and advanced medical engineering. It also owns large-scale research facilities not found at other universities, such as the Nayuta telescope, one of the largest in Japan with a diameter of 2 m, and the NewSUBARU synchrotron radiation facility. The University utilizes these facilities to promote international joint research and industry-academia collaboration. At the Harima Campus for Science and Kobe Campus for Information Science, which are adjacent to the world's most advanced research facilities, education and research are conducted in collaboration with the large-scale synchrotron radiation facility SPring-8 and the supercomputer Fugaku.

The diverse Hyogo Prefecture facilities, such as the Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, which is famous for its forest animal protection and management and the Tamba Dragon; the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork in Toyooka City; the Awaji Landscape Planning & Horticulture Academy; and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution at HAT Kobe, are also home to the University's graduate schools, which produce original research results and provide a wide range of learning opportunities for citizens. We encourage you to visit these educational and research institutions, which are the pride of the University. You will surely gain new perspectives and inspiration.

I would like to mention a few reasons for the University's existence in terms of education, research and social contribution. The first reason is to nurture independent and flexible intellects with a high degree of specialization, deep knowledge, good judgment and the ability to engage in international dialogue who will lead the next generation. The new coronavirus disaster has pushed the development of online classes that allow you to study anywhere and international joint education program that connect you with universities worldwide. You will develop yourselves through your studies and create a global, multifaceted mindset and entrepreneurial spirit that builds bridges rather than walls between people.

The second reason for the University's existence is to contribute through interdisciplinary, original and practical research activities to solve the various challenges facing the world. Science and technology know no borders. Comprehensive knowledge is essential to accelerate innovation. We will promote industry-government-academia collaboration globally and return the results to society through university-launched ventures and other activities with start-up support.

The third reason for the University's existence is to present a vision of a prosperous and diverse future society and to create new value and hope. The University will actively fulfil its role as a public good from a global perspective based on dialogue in order to protect human freedom and dignity and the rich diversity of the global environment, based on the concept of "No one left behind", as stated in the SDGs.

In cooperation with Hyogo Prefecture under the leadership of Governor Saito, which has put forward various measures to support the youth and Generation Z, such as free tuition fees for prefectural universities, the University is now pursuing creative reforms from a student-first perspective to create a space of academic knowledge with a unique and distinctive appeal that can be used worldwide. A new landscape is being created. Please look forward to it.

I would like to mention a few trends in contemporary society here.

You are living in a turbulent age of rapid progress in information science and technology represented by AI and IoT, intensifying conflicts in the midst of globalization, and a global biodiversity crisis. The continuity from the past to the future is shaken, and chaos is reflected in the spirit of the times.

DX and digital transformation have transformed the social environment around us. An era is just around the corner in which exponentially advancing AI technologies will move into every corner and shake human superiority. At the same time, DX has opened up new possibilities for civic participatory democracy, but it has also led to the spread of narrow, self-righteous deepfakes and hate speech, creating disparities and divisions.

American author Ray Bradbury has a 1953 science fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451", which has recently been re-filmed. The work depicts a near-future society in which books have become contraband and are burned as soon as they are found. Book-burning is an act of totalitarian destruction that denies freedom and diversity, sealing out not only inconvenient truths but also memories, ideas and imaginations that lead to different worlds.

In his 1823 play "Almansor", the German poet Heinrich Heine wrote: 'Book-burning is only the prelude. He who burns books will soon burn people too', an admonition that would become a reality under Nazi rule.

If we are to remain protagonists in the future, we must continue to hone our critical intelligence, the ability to see through the flood of fakes, and our creative intelligence, the ability to present precise counterproposals based on multilayered thinking, rather than being blinded by the merits of science and technology. Do not be swayed by easy words that are difficult to verify and have no objectivity, but go beyond value relativism and make every effort to get closer to the truth.

The wars and terrorism waged around the world by belligerent authoritarian regimes, not to mention Ukraine, Gaza and Darfur, have resulted in vast numbers of victims and refugees and have accelerated poverty.

Climate change and tectonic shifts also pose a significant threat to our livelihoods and biodiversity. Despite progress towards the GX/Green Transformation based on carbon neutrality, we are far from realizing the 1.5°C commitment to stop the temperature rise, and the planet is boiling over.

These crises, which are putting a red light on the achievement of the SDGs, the united goals of the international community, are unfortunately caused by us humans. Our freedom, peace and prosperity are not a given.

With your soft sensitivity and clear gaze, you who can share the pain of others and reach out to them, you can break down the walls surrounding us and usher in a global diversity society where people can escape fear and live in peace. As young people responsible for the future of our planet, believe in your strength and take a new step forward. Your experience of perseverance in the difficult times of the new Corona disaster will continue to inspire you in the future.

The University treats you as adults and expects you to take responsibility for your actions. In your university life, you will shape the outlines of your life by observing social norms and exercising firm self-discipline. University is a place where you can meet other people with diverse sensibilities and relativize yourself. It is said that the friends you make at university will become your friends for life. You will meet many friends with whom you can engage in friendly competition.

In his 1939 essay collection "Terre des hommes", the French writer and pilot Saint-Exupéry wrote the memorable words: 'Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction'.

I would like to congratulate you and welcome you to this memorable day together, and I wish you all the best as you develop your intellectual integrity in the space of academic knowledge and create new values and hopes, hand in hand with the youth of the world.

Congratulations. Welcome to the University of Hyogo.


5 April, 2024
President, University of Hyogo