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Message from the President

2021 Fall Commencement Address by President Ishibashi

Congratulations to all of you who received your degrees from Kyushu University today. A total of 413 students (72 in the Bachelor Degree Program, 146 in the Master's Program, 1 in the Professional Degree Program, and 194 in the Doctoral Program) received their degrees. Among these, 267 are international students.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret that we cannot invite family members and others who could have joined you to celebrate your graduation to our campus, but we would like to celebrate today's milestone with those of you watching the live stream. Let me extend to you the heartfelt congratulations of all the University’s faculty and staff. 

Since last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many activities across national borders and around the world. We cannot foresee when the pandemic will end, and our world of learning is facing enormous changes also. I am sure that this time has presented many hardships, especially for our international students. I would like to express my respect for the unyielding efforts of all of you who overcame these difficulties, deepened your studies, devoted yourselves to learning, and successfully graduated today. I am very proud of you. I hope that the lessons you have learned here will be of use to each of you in the next phase of your lives, and I look forward to your successes in the future. 

This year, Kyushu University celebrates its 110th anniversary. The University's Education Charter states that the University will contribute to progress of Japan and the world. Its Research Charter states that the University will respect the long tradition of the pursuit of truth by mankind and hand down this basic attitude to future generations, and that the University will produce progressive and world-renowned knowledge. Generations of students, faculty members, and staff have made this philosophy their own, producing outstanding human resources and brilliant research results. The University has contributed to humanity and society as a center for the exploration, creation, and development of knowledge. I hope you will use the expertise you have acquired and developed during your time at Kyushu University. The humanity, social skills, global citizenship, and various other abilities you have cultivated here will undoubtedly be of use in helping to overcome and solve the challenges now facing our world.

As you face the many challenges ahead, I hope you will remember Kyushu University from time to time and come to visit us again. By visiting the University in the future, you may find new perspectives to solve problems you are tackling with. The University is promoting various reforms, and I believe we can work together to find solutions to some of the issues you will face. Your intellectual journey began here at Kyushu University, and we endeavor to remain a place of pride and support long after you graduate.

Hosei Hahakigi wrote a book titled Negative Capability: The Power to Endure Situations that are difficult to solve.
 In this 2017 work, Hahakigi writes about the ability to endure situations that are difficult to manage and solve. He writes that we often take abilities as talents, or problem solving capability, and this is what that have been pursued in education and professional training. In education, we are to be trained to solve the problem efficiently. The negative capability is the opposite ability which is the ability to endure and cope with a situation that cannot be explained or decided, without escaping or abandoning it.  But our lives and society are filled with things that we cannot change; things we cannot do anything about. Keep in mind that even if you can't solve a problem right away, the idea is to hold on and endure it somehow. What modern education fosters is positive capability, but it is also important to have negative capability: “the ability to endure, not avoid, unresolved situations.” Hahakigi points out again in his writing that the poet John Keats first wrote about negative capability.  Keats found that Shakespeare and Murasaki Shikibu were able to create great works due to the fact that they possessed this capability. This is an interesting book and it is only in Japanese but I recommend you to read.  Hosei Hahakigi is actually a pen name, taken from the Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu but Hosei Hahakigi is, in fact, a 1978 graduate of Kyushu University and also works as a psychiatrist.

Dr. Katalin Karikó, who played a leading role in developing the COVID-19 vaccine, moved to the U.S. from Hungary in 1985 after her research funding was cut short, and her research of mRNA was extremely difficult. Nevertheless, she never gave up, and she carried out her challenging research with her curiosity, enthusiasm, and humbleness. If it were not for her great work, we would never find the solution to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. I assume that Dr. Karikó has a negative capability.

In March this year, the Dr. Tetsu Nakamura Memorial Archive was opened on the fourth floor of the Central Library, and a Dr. Tetsu Nakamura Commemorative Lecture was held in June. Regarding the collapse of government in Afghanistan this August, I cannot help praying that Dr. Nakamura’s magnificent efforts and warm and strong feelings for Afghan people are secured and maintained. In the last chapter of his book Providence Was with Us, which has now been translated into English, he writes as follows. “Humans are part of nature. Nature is inside of us all. This fact is both an undeniable fate and a blessing that regulates all life on earth. There is no way for us to survive as a species without a reconciliation between nature and humanity and between humans themselves in the endeavors of science, economics, medicine, agriculture, and all other aspects of human behavior. I believe that this is the mark of a decent civilization.” Dr. Nakamura’s writing teaches us an important lesson we have to think deeply about.

Kyushu University places great importance on connections with alumni. A number of alumni associations have been established overseas. I hope that you will make full use of these networks to enrich your activities in society in the future.

In closing, I would like to send you my last message.
Step out to the world and seek your bright future and do not be discouraged by the difficulties and challenges you face.
Let us work together to realize a society where all people can live in peace and harmony.
Thank you very much. 

 

Tatsuro Ishibashi
President, Kyushu University

September 24, 2021