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President Kamata's address at the 2013 commencement of School and Art and Architecture School and Graduate School degree conferment ceremony

President Kaoru Kamata

Congratulations on your graduation. On behalf of Waseda University, I would like to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart.

I would also like to pay deep respect to the families and friends who have supported all the graduates in various aspects for so long up until today.

The history of Waseda University, as you know, began in 1882 when Shigenobu Okuma, who retired from politics in 1881, with the help from Azusa Ono, established Tokyo Senmon Gakko here in Waseda. Among 80 students who entered the school that year, the students who were admitted as second year students had the honor of becoming the first graduates of the school in July 1884. It is said that the commencement was a grand affair with tens of prominent figures from various fields, such as Yukichi Fukuzawa, Nobushige Hozumi, Hisoka Maejima, and Yukio Ozaki, in attendance. However, there were only a total of 12 graduates at the inaugural commencement with four coming from the School of Political Science and Economics and eight from the School of Law.

130 years later, at today's commencement of School and Graduate School degree conferment ceremony, we have 9,128 school graduates, 57 graduates from the Art and Architecture School, 2,090 receiving their Master's degrees, 719 graduates from the degree course of the Professional Graduate Schools, and 211 doctorate graduates, a total of 12,205 students.

Of those, 254 bachelor's degrees, 347 Master's degrees, 31 professional degrees and 59 Doctoral degrees are being awarded to a total of 691 exchange students from overseas.

Also, in last September's commencement, the 1,291 graduates included 489 exchange students, meaning that from the total of 13,496 graduates in 2013, 1,180 (8.74%) were exchange students.

I believe that one of the reasons behind this university developing into an enormous university where many students from the world gather, is that the close to 600 thousand graduates (alumni) have been extremely active in a wide range of fields such as academics, politics, finance, mass media, arts, and sports, and all over the world. Thus, Waseda University is gaining high social approval.

I am confident that all the graduates who also have become alumni today, like your alumni seniors, will be active on your way to your various goals and gain high social approval.

Looking at the state of the society which you are about to leap into, in Japan where business results are improving, we are finally seeing signs of recovery from domestic economics which remained stagnant due to the rapid advancement of the decreasing birthrate and aging population and the rise of emerging nations, but we cannot shake the sense of uncertainty for the future, and anxiety exists over growing economic disparities and strained relations with neighboring countries surrounding territorial disputes and interpretation of history. Also, if you turn your eyes to the world, successive regional conflicts and terrorism, severe environmental pollution and global climate change, and the starvation and poverty that still exist over a wide area etc., are some of the mountains of issues that must be tackled on a global scale.

It is in this relentless era where I strongly pin my hopes on all of you, who have studied at Waseda University, to be active in the future. No matter what difficult problems you are faced with, take up the challenge resolutely with an enterprising spirit, follow your beliefs and cultivate your character to make every effort possible for human happiness. These are the founding philosophies of our university, and many of your alumni seniors have embodied these principles and I believe that you will all continue that tradition in earnest.

As you all know, the “Waseda Mission”, as the founding philosophy, states first, academic freedom (freely make efforts in creative research to benefit global learning), second, practical utilization of knowledge (study theories as theories, and contribute to the development of society by devising ways to apply them), and third, nurturing of model citizens (while respecting individuality and developing the mind and body, employ research results for society and people in general and not for self-interest or rivalry, and cultivate characters that will be active throughout the world). Shigenobu Okuma emphasized that we must continue these efforts for our whole lives in order to realize this ideology of cultivating altruistic characters.

There are many alumni who have embodied this ideology.

For example, the great journalist, and the first Waseda graduate to become Prime Minister, Tanzan Ishibashi, in prewar times, consistently rallied against militarism and colonialism, and after defeat in the war immediately proclaimed, “It is not the time when we are stunned, sit back with our arms folded, nor squander time in resentment.” “If I despond of the future of Japan, the feeling is due to a lack of education which must naturally be given to citizens. While being totally understandable in the circumstances, such ignorance should be considered as extremely pitiful.” “Japan in the future must exert all her efforts as a soldier for world peace. The mission for a reborn Japan lies here, and in this way we can build a grand reformed Japan.” “It is inevitable that the future of a reborn Japan is boundless. With these words I celebrate the departure toward a rejuvenated Japan.” He stood firmly to his beliefs in any situation, and continued to display a posture that continued moving forward with an enterprising spirit.

Chiune Sugihara is well known from a humane point of view for saving the lives of 6,000 Jewish refugees by continuing to issue life visas in defiance of orders from the Japanese government.

In regards to economic activities, SONY founder Masaru Ibuka, who led Japan's postwar economic growth through the practical application of new technology, and Tadashi Yanai, who developed Uniqlo into a giant global brand, come to mind.

Internationalization of our university dates back a long way, with two of the previously mentioned twelve inaugural graduates continuing their studies in Europe and America. On their return to Japan after receiving their doctorates, they taught at Waseda University while being active in the business world. We know many pioneers including Kanichi Asakawa, who studied in America after graduating at the top of Tokyo Senmon Gakko in 1895 and became the first Japanese professor at Yale University, and 1896 graduate Ryusaku Tsunoda, who founded the Japanese Culture Center of America at Columbia University and mentored figures such as Donald Keene. Conversely, people who have come from overseas to study at Waseda University include Chen Duxiu, who came from Peking University and founded the Chinese Communist Party after studying here and Peking University Library Director, Li Dazhao. Based upon this long tradition, Waseda University have become the university which boasts the highest number of foreign student accepted and graduates in Japan.

As a graduate from the young generation, we also know Mami Sato, who, while having her leg amputated due to illness during her studies at the School of Commerce of our university, took up the challenge of sport with an indomitable spirit. She became a great paralympian and world championship medalist, and also moved the world in the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee's wonderful presentation. Sato received her Master's degree in our Graduate School's adult course and splendidly embodied the idea of excelling at both sports and study.

I am looking forward to all of you playing active roles that rival or surpass these seniors.

Today marks an end to your study life, but that does not mean that your “learning” ends today. Today's society is becoming a sophisticated social infrastructure where new knowledge, information and technology, as the foundation for activities in all areas of society, starting with politics, economics and culture, are rapidly gaining importance, so, for not only those who will continue their studies, but also those who will move into employment, constant learning is necessary.

From here on, through facing everyday new issues, grasping the essence of the problem, meticulously conducting necessary investigations and analyses using new information, thinking for yourself, and discussions with people who hold various senses of values, you are expected to orchestrate desirable solutions and carry them out with a firm sense of mission.

And, when necessary, please knock on the gates of this university at any time. Waseda University, as it is stated in “Waseda Vision 150”, a plan for the future which was drawn up in November 2012, is aiming to become a university where one can learn necessary things, whenever necessary, for life.

Again, I hope from my heart that, with the broad education and advanced professional knowledge you have acquired through your classes at Waseda University and extra-curricular activities, and abundant humanity as a base, you continue genuine “learning” and that, in order to realize world peace and happiness for mankind, you will be highly active as true global leaders in every corner of society and every single field.

I will conclude my congratulatory and farewell address to all the graduates by saying that, based on the various situations and harsh circumstances surrounding the university in recent times, and for the purpose of improving the quality of education and research and establishing governance as well as complying with compliance with our faculty and staff united, Waseda University pledges to make thorough efforts as much as we possibly can to make alumni feel prouder than ever to be the graduates of this university and fully respond to the high trust placed on us by the whole society.

To all the graduates, congratulations on your graduation.
I hold expectations for your energetic activity in the future. Do your best.

President Kaoru Kamata, Waseda University