Hosei University Entrance Ceremony for fall 2018 President's Welcome Address

September 18, 2018

Good morning First of all let me congratulate you on entering Hosei University!

Coming to university or graduate school is not just about amassing skills and knowledge. It is about developing a broader and a deeper perspective on what is happening in the world today, and understanding how the world is likely to develop. The sense of values you acquire here at university will help nurture your own individual values and viewpoint.

I am reminded of a time when I attended a conference for Japanese university presidents at which the president of Kyoto University spoke. To give you the gist, he often went to Africa for field work and one day he apparently met a graduate of Kyoto University graduate school. That graduate had been exchanging experiences with graduates from various European universities. At some point, they all talked about what kind of tertiary education they had received. When the graduate told them that students at Japanese universities and postgraduate schools chose their research topic and research method on their own, and decided how to write up their research themselves with help from professors, the other students were amazed and envious. Deciding your own study topic and writing your own essays is usual practice in Japan, and at Hosei University as well, because that yields maximum benefit. Through this story, I recognized that self-determination in the research process is a unique feature of Japanese universities.

As you know, Japan is a democratic country that decides many things through elections. It places great value on freedom, including academic freedom. Academic freedom is protected by the Japanese constitution, and no politician or national leader can tamper with that. Since its foundation, Hosei University has upheld and nurtured that freedom above all else. Exercising freedom is not easy, but it is a vital skill for our global society.                 

I myself first entered Hosei University 46 years ago. I was struck by the teachers’ free academic approach, and the determined attitude to challenge and contribute to society. Universities are not just for academic studies. They are precious places in which to learn about the world, confront social issues, and extend your own faculties and horizons. Hosei University is precisely such a place. In one of my first-year classes, we conducted a field survey with some senior students, and sometimes students themselves even conducted lectures. The professors responded really well when the students tried to take an active part. At Hosei University, students can actually change the lessons themselves, because that is the type of institution we are.

Hosei University started out in 1880 as the Tokyo School of Law. The Tokyo School of Law was established by three young lawyers in their twenties. It was at the beginning of Japan’s modern era, when the people of the time were just starting to realize the importance of human rights, and the need for legal expertise.

The three lawyers were 28-year-old Kanamaru Magane, 25-year-old Ito Osamu, and 24-year-old Satta Masakuni. The multipurpose Satta Hall, located here on Ichigaya campus, was named after the youngest of the three founders. The 27-floor Boissonade Tower, where we are right now, was named after the French legal scholar Gustave Émile Boissonade. The three young men studied law based on Boissonade’s legal approach, and this became the foundation of the Tokyo School of Law’s curriculum.

While we first learned about law from the French, Japan started developing its own unique method of learning in the Edo period (1603–1867). This involved studying together with other students and, not only listening to lectures, but also giving lectures in turn to fuel mutual discussion. That is how teaching was approached in higher education institutions such as clan schools and private schools. The three founders of Hosei University was born and brought up in the Edo period. They possessed the power of debate, and the importance of practical wisdom for freedom lies at the heart of our University charter.

Hosei University’s Charter emphasizes our role as a university that possesses a broad outlook on the future of Japan, and the world. When you enter Hosei University, your studies will be based on this very same spirit, so let me tell you a little more about it. The Charter’s watchword is “commitment,” or, the “University’s commitment to society.” We call that commitment Practical Wisdom for Freedom.

Hosei University Charter
Practical Wisdom for Freedom

Hosei University was founded by a group of ambitious young men at the beginning of the modern era in Japan for ordinary citizens who had become aware of human rights and sought a knowledge of the law.

As the school song says, Hosei University is a place where “good teachers and good friends gather.” The university has always fostered a “free academic atmosphere” in which the rights of others are respected and diversity is accepted, and a “pioneering spirit” which is not bound by convention and aims at building a fair society.

Carrying on the legacy of the university’s founders, our mission is to pass on this free academic atmosphere and pioneering spirit to the next generation and contribute to solving the problems of the world.

In order to fulfill this mission, the university strives to support farsighted research from a variety of points of view and educate students to become independent citizens who carry out their work for the society and the people based on well-grounded principles and unrestricted thinking.

Hosei University promotes sound critical thinking based on sympathy for all people, both locally and internationally, and the creation of ideas for solving social problems based on practical wisdom. In cooperation with its many graduates, who have the ability to live anywhere in the world, Hosei University will contribute to the future of sustainable societies.

That is the Hosei University Charter.
So what is Practical Wisdom for Freedom?

It refers to the freedom to think for yourself, and to direct your life based on those thoughts and beliefs without relying on authority or organizations you find yourself in. Practical wisdom doesn’t simply mean knowledge with valid practical applications. Practical wisdom is the application of astute intellect to real-life situations to achieve an ideal or a goal that is of value to society. This commitment dates back far into the history of Hosei University.

Many professors illustrate the Practical Wisdom for Freedom spirit by cooperating with society on a variety of ongoing projects. We have staff offering personal support for students. The University also encourages students to help each other and act on their own initiative. I hope you will work to extend your own skills, together with others in this precious space of the university. University is the perfect time and place to help each other explore your own capabilities. Truly, there is no other place like it.

Hosei University is currently playing a key part in the government’s university globalization strategy. Today, Hosei University consistently boasts one of the highest number of students studying overseas among Japanese universities. Many of our graduates also work in various places around the world.

Japan and the rest of the world are currently facing an era of unprecedented change. As for our University founders before us, changing times present opportunities for young people to carve new eras and new priorities. I hope that each of you will take the opportunity to test your own creativity.

Let me close by heartily welcoming you into the Hosei University community.

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