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History of the Okuma Auditorium: Visitors to Waseda University

2) Young people have the right to express their own views: 1960s

Hideki Kojima (politics in 1970)
Writer & member of the editional board of Waseda University Alumni Bulletin

Dialogue with R. Kennedy Interrupted
Guo Moruo, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)
U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy at Waseda University

February 6, 1962 (Showa 37)
Kennedy attends Student Discussion Forum at the Okuma Auditorium. In the following year, 1963, his brother John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. In the same year, Robert Kennedy Scholarship Fund was established.

On May 27, 1960 (Showa 35), Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (Suzuki Daisetsu) who spread interest in Zen Buddhism to the world and was called "greatest Buddhist in modern Japan" delivered a lecture on "What is at the Roots of the Eastern Culture." He dropped out of 'Tokyo Senmon Gakko (College)' and obtained his degree at Department of Philosophy, College of Literature, Tokyo Imperial University.

On December 14, 1961 (Showa 36), Edwin Reischauer, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, delivered a lecture on "Modern Japan in the World." He was born in Tokyo, second boy of missionaries, and studied the history of the East. After his second marriage to Haru Matsukata, he became the director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Appointed Ambassador to Japan by President John F. Kennedy, Reischauer made efforts to improve Japan-U.S. relations which had deteriorated due to opposition in Japan to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

On February 6, 1962 (Showa 37), then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy attended Student Discussion Forum, which was however interrupted by students hostile to the foreign policy of the Kennedy administration. According to The Mainichi Shimbun, the Okuma Auditorium was thronged with students whose number was over 4,000 exceeding the number of 2,000 seats; there were about 3,000 students outside. While Mr. Kennedy and his wife and Ambassador Reischauer were applauded thunderously by sympathetic students, hostile students chanted, "Go home!" which again others tried to stop. After waiting for the audience to calm down, Mr. Kennedy started talking, "An opportunity to talk with you with interest ...."

Then, a student who was near the stage interrupted him in a loud voice, waving an questionnaire. Mr. Kennedy asked him to come onto the stage. The students began to read the questionnaire, "We demand Mr. Kennedy to ...." The translator asked him to refrain from anything other than asking questions. Some in the audience also cried out, "Youfre a disgrace to Waseda! Get off!" Then, unfortunately, power got off and the microphone did not work. Mr. Kennedy came to the apron of the stage but his voice was drowned out by the uproar. Half of the scheduled time (one hour) passed when the audience calmed down.

Kennedy said calmly, "We Americans are by no means trying to dominate or control other nations. Individuals have the freedom to express their views and especially young people have the right to express their own views. The opposition and lobbying are important. ... [Interrupted by boos and jeers] ... I firmly believe that a nation exists in the interest of individuals." The Forum ended without enough dialogue. Mr. Kennedy took his tie pin off, gave it to the cheerleader who led the students in singing in chorus the alma mater song, and left the stage holding his right hand high.

The Earth is blue!
Hideki Yukawa, Professor at Kyoto University
Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut

May 23, 1962 (Showa 37)
Lecture title: Prepare for Space Travel!

Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut and the first human to travel into space, who immortalized the phrase "The Earth is blue," delivered a lecture entitled "Prepare for Space Travel!" at the Okuma Auditorium. It was on May 23. "The boundless expanse of space is waiting for us. Undertake preparations so that you may be space travelers too." In 1968, during the training to become a fighter pilot, he died on a training flight due to its crash. Gagarin was 34 years old.

On September 9, 1964 (Showa 39), Jiro Osaragi, a writer well known for his novel Kurama Tengu, delivered a lecture entitled "My Reflections on Literature" and talked about his background and other writers like Sanjugo Naoki, Kan Kikuchi and Masao Kume. On September 24, Takeo Kuwabara, professor at Kyoto University, gave a lecture on "Modern Japan." He is one of cultural leaders in post-war Japan, best known for his studies on Stendhal and Alain as well as for his direction of interdisciplinary collaborative studies.

Hideki Yukawa, Professor at Kyoto University
Konosuke Matsushita, Chairman of Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co.

June 18, 1965 (Showa 40)
Awarded an Honorary Doctorate

A lecture in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Isoo Abe's birth was delivered by Tetsu Katayama, then a lawmaker of the House of Representatives (Ex-Prime Minister). It was entitled "Mr. Isoo Abe as Socialist Party Leader." "There is a correlation among all aspects of Mr. Abe: Mr. Abe who established student baseball in Japan; Mr. Abe who founded the Japanese socialist movement and the Japan Socialist Party; Mr. Abe as a philosopher and advocate for social integrity, social justice and the maintenance of order."

It was at the last stage of the glory of existentialism. On May 27, 1965 (Showa 40), Jean-Marie Domenach, editor-in-chief of French literary magazine Esprit, gave a lecture entitled "the Role of Intellectuals in our Age." He said, "It is not in the future that we can require an assurance, but in the present, in our fight today, in our resistance against all things the aspects of human spirit disclaim. For me, the raison d'être of intellectuals is in this sense."

On May 18, 1966 (Showa 41), Gabriel Marcel, a cultural emissary sent by the French government, gave a lecture entitled "Situation and Truth." The existentialist said, "While each of us is confined in a false situation and cannot escape it, the most important thing is to reflect upon such a false situation."

Hideki Yukawa, Professor at Kyoto University
Students clash with police

(The 1968 Yearbook of the Department of Commerce)

At that time, the campus riot spread and there were fewer lectures. In November, Michel Butor, one of the leading exponents of the nouveau roman and cultural emissary sent by the French government, delivered a lecture on "Guillaume Apollinaire and French Modern Poetry."

On June 24, 1969 (Showa 44), Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws. She is the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and one of the most powerful leaders in the history of India. In 1984, she was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards. "It has always been a youth's prerogative to ask "Why?" It was this "Why?" that gave rise to philosophy, reforms and riots.