Welcome and congratulations to our 293 new graduate students! On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, I offer my warmest congratulations to you, your families and all those who have supported you in reaching this important milestone. It is my great pleasure to be with you here on this beautiful day. To all of our guests who have taken time out of their busy schedules to be with us here, I very much appreciate your presence. I hope you will join me as we all watch over the futures of these graduate school students while they pursue their studies and research.
We are welcoming forty-nine international students from ten countries this year: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland and Afghanistan. We are flying the flags of the countries of our international students in this hall alongside the Japanese national flag.
It is the great pleasure of our faculty and staff to welcome the international students who choose to cross borders every year to pursue a course of study and research here at Ochanomizu University. It is my earnest hope that all of our international students will enjoy studying and conducting research here in Japan, far away from their home countries, and that they will have opportunities to learn about different lifestyles, viewpoints and values through their interactions with Japanese culture and the Japanese people.
And for those of you born and raised in Japan, I hope you enjoy interacting and making friends with international students through various exchange opportunities, and that you experience significant personal growth as you learn to appreciate the diversity that exists among people around the world.
After your four years of undergraduate study—or your six years of undergraduate and early graduate study and research—I imagine you have arrived here full of hope and ready to take the next step in your academic career. I hope you take advantage of the rich learning and research environment of Ochanomizu University to explore and study a variety of fields. Toward that end, the faculty and staff of Ochanomizu University are developing various systems and campus facilities to create a positive research environment.
As you all know, Ochanomizu University celebrated its 140th anniversary last year on November 29.
Ochanomizu University was founded in 1875 as Tokyo Women’s Normal School, Japan’s first institution of higher education for women in the Ochanomizu neighborhood. Over the next 140 years, the university has produced many talented educators and researchers. Since Ochanomizu University became a university under the new school system in 1949, it has established a graduate school master’s degree program in 1963, followed by a doctoral degree program in 1976. These were the first graduate school programs opened by a women’s university in Japan.
Since its founding, this university has been expected to cultivate female leaders equipped with both general knowledge and specialized expertise. Even when it was difficult for women to play a working role in society, this university has consistently cultivated leading educators, scientists and engineers. We have sent many talented graduates out into the world, supported women’s independence and social engagement, and bolstered the intellectual foundations of society. This continues to be part of Ochanomizu University’s mission.
Ochanomizu University set its sights on creating a culture of research and education that crossed national boundaries and on supporting women all over the world in the quest to achieve their dreams. The university adopted the motto of “being a place where all women who are motivated to learn can realize their most ambitious dreams.” We began conducting programs to support the growth and qualitative skill development of women, regardless of nationality or age, including women in developing countries who may have the desire, but not the opportunity, to pursue an education. These programs aimed to globalize academia in the true sense, as a manifestation of our intent to be an academic institution where women from all over can learn alongside one another, develop a genuine understanding of people from different cultures with diverse values and perspectives, and mutually benefit from one another while pursuing their own individual growth.
In graduate school, students enter a world of individuals who have in-depth knowledge of their field of specialization. They study and use the concepts, arguments and methods developed by their predecessors, and they also develop their own new concepts, arguments and methods and strive to produce unique academic findings. This process is likely to result in exciting intellectual exploration. I certainly hope that you enjoy engaging in such intellectual exploration in an environment where diverse people work closely with one another, and that you bring forth new vitality and creativity as you develop your character and skills.
Ochanomizu University’s graduate school strives to cultivate individuals who can conduct cutting-edge academic research and educate the public by promoting education and research based on interdisciplinary perspectives while promoting deeply specialized study. We also strive to cultivate individuals who can address various issues that Japan and the world face, and who can help solve real-world problems. To accomplish this, our faculty and staff develop diverse education and research programs unique to this university, strive to develop new academic values, and implement numerous educational programs. Now they are promoting the Program for Leading Graduate Schools to cultivate female doctoral degree holders and striving to foster women who play leadership roles in many different fields worldwide.
The women who complete degrees here move into a variety of positions within universities, national and public research institutes, companies, primary and secondary educational institutions, national government agencies, prefectural and municipal government offices, courts and other legal institutions, media outlets such as TV and newspaper companies, independent administrative institutions and social welfare organizations. The number of our advanced degree holders who will be working for international institutions, overseas universities, research institutes and companies promises to increase.
I’m sure that all of you here have very different ideas about what the future will look like. Some of you will not doubt want to continue working as researchers, while others may want to equip themselves with specialized skills and set off out into the world. No matter which path you intend to follow, I hope you will remain strong, bold and unafraid of failure as you pursue your various research efforts. Without boldness of spirit, it will be difficult to solve difficult problems. To achieve the joy of success in your studies and research, you may have to experience repeated failures first. As you relentlessly review the existing research, and experiment, observe and measure over and over again, you will organize and analyze data and develop concepts, theories and proofs in your own words. This earnest approach to research will lead you to creative research results. However, your research findings will not necessarily be accepted by academia and society at once. It is often difficult for new results that challenge existing theories to gain traction, particularly theories that have become the commonly accepted doctrine in academia or society. But this is the joy of academic endeavors. It is an earnest approach to conducting research that will lead to ultimate success.
I hope that you enjoy engaging in academic and research activities on this campus, and that you contribute to the development of your discipline based on the self-confidence and pride that results from taking an earnest approach to your research.
I hope that you continue to conduct research to address issues around the world like poverty, food scarcity, environmental destruction, energy resource depletion and threats to safety and peace, and that you engage in activities that inspire hope and courage in the people around you.
Take care of yourselves, both physically and emotionally, and enjoy your time as university students. Again, I congratulate you on being accepted into Ochanomizu University’s graduate school and wish you a fruitful and rewarding research experience during your time here. Welcome to Ochanomizu University!
April 4, 2016