Congratulations on your graduation.
I would like to extend my congratulations to the families and relations of all who are graduating today.
Also in attendance are Ochanomizu University supervisors, Administrative Councilors, the Chairman of the Alumni Association Ouinkai, trustees, and emeritus professors. Thank you for attending.
Four years ago, when you were just starting your studies here, I made my first address as university president. We have all spent the last four years together and come thus far.
One big effort over the past four years has been the educational reform in our undergraduate courses. The reforms were manifested in two original educational systems: the new liberal arts education that unites humanities and sciences, and the Multiple Program Elective Course System that enables students to voluntarily reach beyond their specialties.
It will be a while before these new educational systems bear fruit, but I am certain that you will use the education you received here in individual, creative ways. The most shocking, devastating event that happened during the past four years was the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Some of our students and their parents were directly affected. On that day, 500 people spent the night in our auditorium and gymnasium. I remember perceiving the composure and tolerance of everyone on campus that day. Students, faculty members and staff members alike responded to the constantly changing situation with sound judgment, and took action with forethought and consideration. It is for this reason that we were able to overcome the crisis.
It is a disaster that we cannot forget, even if we may wish to do so. It was also a valuable lesson in which I recognized and felt proud of the compassion shown by everyone on this campus.
More importantly, however, the disaster became an occasion for us to completely rethink the role we play as a higher education institution, that is, in response to the great earthquake and the following nuclear power plant accident. Today we are forced to reconsider the meaning of science and technology.
Since modern times, the development of natural sciences has changed the very quality of society. The pursuit of science taught us more about nature, and the development of advanced, precise technology created a new environment that can almost be called a “Second Nature.” Computerization conquered the constraints of time and space, medical progress stretched restrictions on life, and we were under the illusion that energy is limitless. We had become complacent in the advantages given us by the development of science and technology, and were suddenly reminded that this power, which had grown beyond expectations, could mercilessly, completely and instantly destroy our lives as we know it.
It was a calamity that made us keenly realize how our lives stand on a hazardous foundation, and also how precious our lives are.
We should not, however, blame science and technology. The problem we face now is that we humans must discern where to use, control and direct the technology that we have developed through scientific knowledge.
We must not bar the path of finding new possibilities through scholarship. We must learn to see the light and shadow of science and technology instead of focusing only on the benefits, and for this, we must apply a multifaceted and varied perspective upon a foundation of advanced and expert knowledge.
We should neither recklessly believe the authority of science and technology, nor avoid it. We must be conscious of the limits of human cognizance, yet seek for true richness in life. I believe this is the role and mission of those who acquire higher education.
You, in particular, have learned how to investigate matters with a multilateral perspective. People who can offer such opinions and thoughts will surely play an important role in our society’s future. I hope you make an effort to effectively use what you learned here in each of your own ways.
On a different note, since last week this auditorium has been hosting graduation ceremonies for our attached schools. There are a total of 442 graduates from our attached schools. Children and students, from Kindergarten to high school, have started on new paths from this auditorium.
And today, 505 graduates of Ochanomizu University are on this same path. The new journey that you now embark on is not about learning, but about applying what you learned in the world. The world is not a completed place, but a place that you must create anew.
The state of affairs in our society is full of uncertainties, with many economic and international problems. There is particular expectation placed on the social progress of women with higher education, for finding new solutions to increasingly complex problems and for revitalizing society.
That women are key to the revitalization of Japan is an observation that many are expressing—for instance Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, said “Women can save Japan’s economy” at the IMF Annual Meeting in Tokyo last autumn. The reason is because Japan needs new outlooks and mindsets that challenge the conventional mentality. Women, whose potential has been overlooked in the past, will trigger new solutions to our complex problems.
Ochanomizu University’s leadership education, which you have experienced in a variety of forms, is in accordance with these social movements. Our leadership education was officially structured and initiated four years ago. The type of leader that we aim to develop is not one who merely has responsibility and wields authority over an organization, but one who takes charge of whatever situation she is given and makes it function effectively. The important thing is to be a leader who can guide society in a new direction based on solid knowledge.
In the future, when you take on the responsibilities of a leader or when circumstances require you to be a leader, know that you have already acquired the fundamentals for demonstrating power. You have already made the preparations for realizing your potential. This is apparent from the many Ochanomizu University alumni who are currently leading society in a variety of fields.
I believe women’s social progress has never before been awaited with such anticipation as today. I hope to see you use the knowledge that you learned and refined at university to realize a truly rich society, and achieve your potential to the fullest.
As Karl Jaspers said, “The future of humanity is not simply a natural event, borne of itself as a matter of course. What we do, think, and expect now and at every moment shapes the origin of our future” (Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History, 1949).
The world waits for you to build a rich future for humankind, and you have cultivated the skills to do so at this university. The degree you hold in your hands is proof of this. Now take courage and put those skills to the test.
I am grateful for having been able to spend the last four years with you. I will stay here a little longer in order to further the development of Ochanomizu University, but I will enjoy watching you on your future paths. I will work harder to make this university one that students will be even more proud to be a part of.
I will end my address with a prayer for the bright futures of all 505 students graduating today.
Again, congratulations to you all. Thank you.
March 22, 2013
President, Ochanomizu University
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