2023 Fall Induction Ceremony：President's Address
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the fall 2023 Shizuoka University induction ceremony for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. A hearty greeting to you all.
We have begun to see signs that COVID-19’s influence is ending after it sparked a global pandemic three years ago. Many students could not come to Japan for the induction ceremony during the pandemic. As a result, I streamed my greeting to those students who could not attend. However, I am delighted to see nearly all incoming students in attendance this year.
I would first like to extend my sincere congratulations to all the students who could join us today: the 20 undergraduates, the 45 graduates, and the 23 doctoral candidates. I want to also extend my heartfelt congratulations to your families and those who have supported you.
Many students here today have been admitted to undergraduate and graduate courses under the Asia Bridge Program (ABP). We started this program eight years ago at the request of companies in Shizuoka Prefecture. Many of these firms are expanding throughout Asia, so they need talented individuals to act as a bridge with their local employees. These companies have made significant donations to establish scholarship programs that financially support our ABP students. Fortunately, many ABP graduates have found positions at these companies, succeeding as expected.
The ABP has also been groundbreaking for Shizuoka University, both in the corporate support the program has had from the beginning and the unprecedented, exceptionally diverse educational and research environment it has fostered. It is remarkable how this program has created interactions between international and Japanese students through classes and research activities. I hope you will eagerly interact with Japanese students, make good friendships, and help to further increase Shizuoka University’s diversity.
Unfortunately, for three years, COVID-19 has hindered students worldwide from moving freely across borders and building close relationships with people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds through mutual exchange. This year, however, brought changes to alleviate the situation and limit COVID-19’s impact. Thanks to this turn of events, we can now cross national borders to visit our neighbors. This is the moment that we have waited for. I sincerely hope that all of you will continue to develop various initiatives to create a better future for all humanity during your time at a university that fully guarantees educational and research rights.
Many of the problems before us require solutions that elude us. The 21st century awaits people who will take on the challenge to find these solutions. Many of the problems confronting us today are incredibly complex and multifaceted. Thus, solutions stemming from isolated disciplines alone cannot address them. To deal with such intractable problems, we must go beyond individual specialties and work together with various academic disciplines. Society looks to us for solutions to the myriad problems impacting the modern world, including, for instance, initiatives that brought the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, approaches to decarbonize society, strategies to bridge social and economic gaps and end conflicts worldwide, and responses to the nuclear threat that is beginning to emerge. Addressing these issues will require going beyond monodisciplinary focus toward interdisciplinary collaboration. I hope you will challenge yourselves to break down the boundaries between the humanities and the sciences as you study and research at Shizuoka University. Naturally, you will depend on your expertise in your research. Still, I hope you will expand your studies to include subjects you think are unrelated to your specialties. Even if you don’t think you need to learn an academic subject at the moment, once you pursue such studies with interest, you may find material you can use in your field. I believe that this approach to learning is crucial. Pursuing such efforts should greatly expand the potential and scope of your research. I very much hope you will all take this approach.
At Shizuoka University, you will be free to pursue your research according to the problems that interest you and disseminate your academic and research findings to society. In other words, at Shizuoka University, we value your inquisitive spirit and creative exploration. Research and initiatives considered “useless” at one time may earn significant appreciation in our changing society. I hope that during your time at Shizuoka University, where we respect each individual’s approach to inquiry, you will reject passivity and actively pursue many challenges.
You will now live in Japan, and by extension, here in Shizuoka Prefecture, for several years to come. Naturally, you will live in an environment that differs from your home countries, so many things may confuse you, including language and customs. I hope that you will enjoy this opportunity and experience as much of the Japanese language and culture as possible. Your new home in Shizuoka Prefecture is blessed with natural splendor and a rich history and culture that captivates many. I wholeheartedly look forward to all of you leading active student lives in such an excellent environment.
In closing today, I congratulate each of you who has chosen to pursue your academic journey at Shizuoka University.