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Message from the President

Academic Year 2016 Autumn Commencement Ceremony (September 26th, 2016)

 It is my honor to be here today to congratulate you on your successful completion of your studies at Kyushu University and to thank your family members who have supported you in your studies and research, the teachers who have guided you, and the many others who have been an influential part of your academic life. I am happy to report that 344 of you are being awarded degrees: 35 a bachelor’s degree, 139 a master’s degree, 2 a professional degree, and 168 a doctorate. 210 of you are international students. I would like to express my deepest respect to you for your diligent dedication to your studies and give my heartfelt congratulations on being awarded your degrees today.

 During the years that you have spent here, Kyushu University has changed tremendously. I would like to talk to you about these changes. Eleven years have passed since the autumn of 2005, when the first group from our engineering programs relocated here to the Ito Campus. The development of the Ito Campus is progressing steadily. The first and second stages of the Ito Campus relocation program have been completed and we are now in the third stage. As of this autumn, there are about 12,000 students, staff, and faculty members here, a figure that will increase to approximately 20,000 in 2018. This is an aerial photograph of the Ito Campus. The engineering buildings, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the science buildings have all been completed. Two and a half years from now, in the 2018 academic year, the agricultural and humanities and social science programs are due to relocate here, completing the relocation project. Many architecturally advanced buildings have been constructed on the Ito Campus over the last few years. These include the Shiiki Hall, the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, and the Ito Guest House. New additions include the Center for Co-Evolutional Social Systems and the second building of the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research that were completed last year, while Ito Harmony House and a dormitory where international and Japanese students live together were built two years ago. The General Research Building for our science faculty was completed last October and a pre-opening ceremony for the new Central Library will take place this October. In the near future, buildings will be constructed to house our humanities and social sciences faculties, along with the General Research Building for the faculty of agriculture.
 The Hospital, Ohashi, and Chikushi Campuses are also undergoing redevelopment. At the same time, buildings on the Hakozaki Campus are steadily being dismantled with a view to the sale of the site.

 The world has seen many changes, both within Japan and overseas, since you joined the university. I would like to look back over these events. On the international front, 2010 saw anti-government protests in a number of Arab nations, along with the Greek government debt crisis; in 2011, New Zealand was struck by an earthquake and Thailand by flooding; and in 2012, Syria’s civil war sank into stalemate.
 In 2013, the Philippines was hit by a typhoon and a huge earthquake struck Sichuan Province in China; 2014 saw a serious outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Africa and the emergence of ISIL, and in 2015, Nepal suffered a major earthquake, while diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba were restored. 2016 has seen a number of big earthquakes and terrorist attacks across the globe, which have claimed many precious lives. In addition, the UK held a referendum on the future of its membership in the European Union and a majority voted to leave, causing widespread anxiety about the future of the global economy. On a more positive note, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics marked the first time that the Olympic Games had been held in South America, with a record-breaking 206 countries and regions taking part. The world we live in is beset by ongoing political instability, and inter-ethnic, religious, and sectarian conflicts, violence, and terrorist acts of all kinds have escalated to serious levels. We also see ongoing intergovernmental conflict and tensions among Japan’s Asian neighbors.

 Closer to home, the most significant event of the last few years was undoubtedly the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Almost 16,000 people lost their precious lives as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami that it triggered. It will take many, many years to clean up after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. 2012 saw the inauguration of the Abe Cabinet. The year 2013 saw Tokyo chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games, while in 2014, three Japanese scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and in 2015, the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution were inscribed on the World Heritage List.

 The biggest event this year was the Kumamoto Earthquake in April. Not one, but two earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 7, the highest level on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s scale, struck Kyushu. I am sure that these earthquakes were a terrifying experience for all of you here today. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere condolences to those who lost their lives and my very best wishes for a quick recovery to those who suffered loss or injury as a result of the disaster. Other events in the news this year included the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen high-speed train line, the hosting of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, and President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, which marked the first time that an incumbent American president had visited the city. Major floods and other natural disasters are repeated and frequent occurrences, continuing to bring home to us the ferocious power of nature, even in the face of the tremendous advances that we have achieved in forecasting and other areas of science and technology.

 The biggest news for Kyushu University last year was the announcement that the discovery of element 113 by a research group from the Faculty of Sciences led by Professor Kosuke Morita was recognized, granting Japan the right to name the new element. It was named nihonium in June this year. We at Kyushu University are honored by this accolade. In October, we formulated the Kyushu University Action Plan 2015, which will serve to guide us to continue and further the accomplishments of Kyushu University in the coming years. The relocation of the Faculty of Sciences to the Ito Campus has been completed and the student activity facilities Tei-Tei-Sha House and Koh-Koh-Sha House were opened. This university also hosted the Japan-China University Presidents Conference and the Japan-Australia University Symposium.

 To commemorate the centenary of its founding and pave the way for its next century, Kyushu University established a new slogan in 2011: Lead in the Next 100 Years, Leap to the Best 100 in the World.

  1. Conducting research at the highest global standard and encouraging innovation
  2. Fostering global talent
  3. Contributing to the local and international communities through advanced medical care
  4. Developing an enhanced campus that students, staff, and faculty members can be proud of
  5. Organizational reform
  6. A university that develops in tandem with society

 We have set out specific proposals and a roadmap for each task and are working to bring these to fruition.

 This, then, is the state of the world, Japan, and Kyushu University as you all set out on a new path today. As representatives of the university, in order to create a better world, it is vital for us to acknowledge and respect each other’s differences and diversity, whether in terms of ethnic background, religion, culture, or perceptions, and to promote and maintain a variety of exchanges and interaction, especially in the fields of research and education. I believe that we also need to present a prescription for the future of society, proposing and spreading new values and cultural directions.
 From what I have seen of your many accomplishments during your time at Kyushu University, I have very high hopes for your future success in creating a better world. I am sure that you will face various difficulties in the years to come. When you are confronted by problems, it is important to have a motto or mindset to encourage you. As my parting gift to you, I would like you to remember the three C’s: Challenge. Change. Creation.

 Even after you graduate, Kyushu University will always be with you, supporting your efforts and cherishing our links with you through our various alumni associations and the many contacts you have made during your time here. I hope that you will be proud to be alumni of Kyushu University and that you will use what you have learned here to pursue your dreams and to blaze a trail to the future, becoming leaders who provide the impetus that will drive global society. I bid you farewell and good luck.

September 26, 2016
Chiharu Kubo
President, Kyushu University

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