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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2014 summer Issue]>Donning the academic gown

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Donning the academic gown

Chuo University confers Honorary Doctorate Degrees to two outstanding individuals

On March 24th, Chuo University presented an Honorary Doctorate Degree to Mr. Rachmat Gobel (51), graduate of the Faculty of Commerce, Chuo University, Chairperson of the Indonesia Japan Friendship Association, and Chairman of Panasonic Gobel Group. On May 8th, an Honorary Doctorate Degree was conferred to Dr. Dirk Ehlers (68), a leading figure in German law. Honorary Doctorate Degrees are presented in recognition of outstanding contributions to the creation/development of culture and the happiness of society/mankind. In the past, degrees have been awarded to prominent individuals such as Toshifumi Suzuki, Chairman & CEO of Seven & I Holdings Japan, who was honored in 2003. Chuo University has conferred a total of 18 Honorary Doctorate Degrees.

Mr. Rachmat Gobel (born in Indonesia)

Mr. Gobel’s conferral ceremony was held at the Imperial Hotel in Hibiya, Tokyo. In addition to Chuo University officials, more than 30 VIPs from Mr. Gobel’s native country of Indonesia attended the ceremony to offer their blessings. Chuo University President Tadahiko Fukuhara wore an academic gown and gave a speech to start the ceremony. “Both Mr. Gobel and his father have worked tirelessly for the prosperity of Indonesia. Through cultivation of personnel and welfare projects, they have had a major impact. It is with great pleasure that I present this Honorary Doctorate Degree.”

Afterwards, Mr. Gobel was presented with a diploma and commemorative academic gown. He then put on the gown for the first time. President Fukuhara softly smoothed the collar. Mr. Gobel placed his hands on the white school badges embroidered on both sides of the chest and quietly closed his eyes.

After taking a sip of water, Mr. Gobel gave a speech in fluent Japanese, discussing international themes such as Asia’s role in the global economy and Indonesia-Japan relations. He also expressed the special meaning that Chuo University has had in his life. At the conclusion of the 8-minute speech, an Indonesian translation was played in the ceremony venue, after which Mr. Gobel’s sentiments were applauded.

Following the conferral ceremony, many Indonesian VIPs sought commemorative photographs with Mr. Gobel. This caused a delay in the celebratory party. Professor Emeritus Mitsuhiko Tsuruta, a former instructor of Mr. Gobel, gave a wry smile while standing behind the podium. Professor Tsuruta’s speech brought calm to the venue.

“Mr. Gobel just gave a truly wonderful speech. I felt as if I were listening to a commemorative lecture. I am truly impressed at how much Mr. Gobel has grown during the past 30 years or so. When he first entered Chuo University, his Japanese wasn’t very good. From a perspective of national variety, I was working to cultivate professionals from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.”

“Mr. Gobel was very good at badminton, the national sport of his country. In fact, he was even better than the teacher in charge! Today, together with his father, he contributes to the growth of Indonesia as a businessman who values workers and onsite conditions. I respect him greatly.”

Professor Tsuruta spoke for about 10 minutes, captivating his audience and sometimes eliciting laughter. The sound of laughter was immediately repeated by Indonesian officials upon hearing a translated version of the speech.

On the following day, Mr. Gobel also represented scholars by giving as speech at the graduation ceremony on the Tama Campus. Resplendent in an academic gown, he exuded an air of confidence.

Dr. Ehlers (born in Germany)

Wearing a stately beard, Dr. Ehlers is a Doctor of Law at the University of Munster, Germany. He is also the former Chairman of the Association of German Public Law, an institution known for its strict rules.

Dr. Ehlers together with Acting Chancellor Tohyama (left) and President Fukuhara (photograph taken by Hotaru Yamashita)

Dr. Ehlers was born in Flensburg, Germany in 1945. He acquired certification as a professor in the 3 fields of constitutional law, public administration and ecclesiastical law. Dr. Ehlers has held positions including Full-Time Professor at the University of Munster, Director at the Institute for Public Economic Law (University of Munster), and Dean of Law at the University of Munster.

Dr. Ehlers has served an important role in academic growth between Japan and Germany. His contributions include providing a positive research environment to foreign students in Germany.

The conferral ceremony for the Honorary Doctorate Degree was held on the Tama Campus. Starting with speeches by President Fukuhara and other Chuo officials, the ceremony proceeded with dignity. Upon being presented with his diploma and commemorative goods, Dr. Ehlers put on his academic gown. Despite seeming somewhat embarrassed at all the attention, Dr. Ehlers smiled throughout the ceremony.

“I am honored to have received an Honorary Doctorate Degree today,” said Dr. Ehlers in a speech given in German. “For me, the conferral is crucial momentum to my academic career in learning.” He concluded his speech by saying thank you in Japanese. “Arigatou gozaimashita.”

Afterwards, the dignified atmosphere of the conferral ceremony was completely changed by the interjection of a heart-warming episode. Unlike Japan, Germany doesn’t have any convenience stores which are open 24 hours a day. Dr. Ehlers revealed how he stocked the guest house refrigerator with ham, cheese and delicious wine when his acquaintances from Japan came to Germany on a late-night flight. Dr. Ehlers showed such hospitality out of concern for the weariness of travel.

Chuo University was the first to show this kind of hospitality. The consideration was met with great approval by colleagues in Germany, and the tradition continues today as a kind of reciprocal principle. This hospitality is always shown to the Chuo University professors who visit Munster every other year.

Student Reporter: Hotaru Yamashita (1st-year student at Faculty of Economics)

Post- report by student reporter—Utility poles should be kept underground!

Since several years ago, I have held an exceptional admiration for Germany.

I applied to write about Dr. Ehler’s conferral ceremony from a desire to hear real German spoken live. I admire Germany’s beautiful nature, delicious cuisine, attractive history, stable economy and polite national character. It is my dream to someday visit Germany.

Dr. Ehler’s native country of Germany has a population of about 80 million and a land area of approximately 350,000 square kilometers. Blessed with rich nature, Germany possesses a variety of geographic features, with plains in the north, highlands in the center, and the Alps in the south.

Germany is also well-known as a leading environmental nation. Citizens place great importance on their country’s natural environment. Germany is also a popular country among Japanese tourists, with 320,000 Japanese visiting the country annually.

Germany’s economy boasts such stability that it is known as the core of the EU.

When hearing the word “Germany,” most people probably imagine of beer and potatoes, or history such as the Berlin Wall. Musicians might think of Bach or Beethoven.

“Any scene from a German neighborhood is beautiful enough to be a painting.”—So says all tourists returning from travel in Germany. The broad, paved roads, the profound stone buildings, the trees growing throughout town…these aspects alone create a beautiful atmosphere. However, such aspects alone would not be enough to entrance every visitor.

In addition to beautiful scenery like that of a painting, the main feature of German landscape is the complete absence of any electric wires or utility poles.

Have you ever heard the phrase “undergrounding utility poles?” As it infers, the goal is to remove utility poles from the urban landscape.

Removing utility poles preserves the traditional atmosphere of neighborhoods. In addition to Germany, this project is being actively implemented by France, England, and other major tourist countries in Europe.

Undergrounding also has benefits other than creating a beautiful atmosphere. It prevents secondary and tertiary disasters during earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons.

For example, if electrical wires are buried underground, there is no danger of fire engines and other emergency vehicles being hampered by electrical wires which have been knocked down or left dangling by earthquakes or tsunami. Burying electrical wires would also eliminate power outages caused by the strong winds of typhoons.

Japan is a country prone to natural disasters. Japan is also once again attracting attention from throughout the world thanks to a boom in Japanese cuisine and excitement surrounding the Tokyo Olympics. Japan should actively improve its infrastructure in order to preserve the traditional, beautiful scenery and to prepare for any possible disasters.

These were my thoughts upon seeing the face of Dr. Ehlers.

(Hotaru Yamashita)