Congratulatory Message from the President Yamaguchi University Completion and Graduation Ceremony, 2018 Academic Year

March 20, 2019

Congratulatory Message from the President
Yamaguchi University Completion and Graduation Ceremony, 2018 Academic Year
Masaaki Oka


Congratulations to all of you on your graduation and the completion of your academic courses. I would also like to express my congratulations and deepest thanks to the faculty and the families and guardians of our students for supporting them during their time at Yamaguchi University.


Some graduates will start working with high hopes for success, and others will move on to graduate school to pursue greater knowledge and skills. In both cases, I assume that, on this day of your graduation and the completion of your studies, many memories of your time at this university are coming back to you. I, myself, studied at Yamaguchi University, and am a part of the history of our university. As an alumnus, I would like to express my sincere congratulations and offer my encouragement.


Yamaguchi University celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding in 2015. I am sure you must have had many opportunities to learn the history of Yamaguchi University through our many events celebrating our 200th anniversary. Last year was also the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. As you learned the history of our university, did you feel the daring spirit of the Yamaguchi region stirring inside you? Yamaguchi University is the third oldest university in Japan—the product of over 200 years of history—and has over 10,000 students. The time you have spent studying here has surely left its mark on that long history. I hope that you are proud of this tradition, and that you continue to grow.


Some of you may remember the words I spoke to you at the entrance ceremony four years ago. This is what I told you at the time: This land, Yamaguchi, is a unique place filled with a daring spirit. The people here aspire to make the world a better place, and are willing to take on any challenge to see those aspirations through. The Meiji Restoration was driven by the daring spirit of the people of Yamaguchi, and that spirit lives on in the university’s guiding philosophy—Discover it. Nourish it. Realize it: A Place of Wisdom. What did you learn in your time as a student? Our university’s educational philosophy is “Discover it. Nourish it. Realize it: A Place of Wisdom.” I think that you have all put that into practice, and I can sense the joy and pride you all are feeling today at your completion and graduation ceremony.


The world is going through the fourth industrial revolution, and Japan is aiming to become “Society 5.0.” Where and how we live, what we do for work, and even our values are going to change. The development of cutting-edge technologies such as IoT, robotics, artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, and neuroscience will have a significant effect not only on how humans live their lives, but on the nature of humankind. In addition to that, these cutting-edge technologies are expected to make 50% of current jobs obsolete. In other words, we are entering an era of uncertainty, and this situation is becoming evident in various ways. Because we are facing such a difficult era, 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs have been determined under an agreement between 193 countries in the United Nations. The concept behind these goals is to “leave no one behind.” The purpose of the agreement is to put an end to poverty, protect the earth, and aim for a society in which everyone can enjoy peace and a high quality of life. Japanese industry and the national government have stated with conviction that they will commit to achieving the SDGs, as have many countries around the world. You need to stay well-informed on the SDGs.


Looking at the situation in Japan, we are facing a low birth rate and aging population, and the situation is intensifying at unprecedented speeds. We are also on the verge of reaching economic maturity. Under these circumstances, we recognize that our response to globalization has been too slow, and that there are risks that come with the overconcentration of our country's economic and human power in Tokyo. Japan is at a significant turning point. In fact, it would not be going too far to say that it is time for a second restoration.


Precisely because we are living in such an era, the knowledge, the skills, and, above all, the ability to face this changing world with flexibility, that you have acquired here in the birthplace of the Meiji Restoration, are essential in order for the world to develop in a sustainable manner. Take what you have discovered, nourished, and realized during your time at Yamaguchi University, and build on it further. Cultivate high ethical standards and a spirit that will never be beaten down. Looking back on my life, it has not always gone smoothly. When I faced difficulties, I was helped greatly by the presence of my friends and the experiences that I gained during university and in society. I advise you all to always be earnest, to face forward with sincerity, and to stick to what is right and just. Even if you have to take a detour, go down a path that you can be proud of. If you do, there is no roadblock that will not clear. Be tough, keep striving, and face challenges with courage, and you will lead a fulfilling life.


You also should not forget to stop and be grateful. I am sure you have a good understanding of the fact that you are here thanks to your family, parents, and the many other people who have helped you to become who you are today. Even after graduating university, you will not be able to go through life without the help of others. Stay grateful. I advise you to tell people, “Thank you,” out loud, now and again. We tend to forget the things we take for granted. I hope that you do not lose this sensitivity to others.


Yamaguchi University holds an annual Homecoming Day to welcome alumni back to the campus with open arms. One day, you might speak about your life and future in front of younger students and former teachers at that event. Your alma mater will always welcome you warmly.


I would like to end with a well-known saying about life by the American thinker Thoreau. “Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.”


I wish for your further development and success, and, once again, offer my congratulations.