News & Event

Welcome Address at the 2020 Entrance Ceremony

News & Event

Let me begin with a warm welcome to all our new students, and their parents and guardians.

Unfortunately, this year’s entrance ceremony was cancelled. Above all, we had to protect everyone from the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus and place priority on welcoming you all to the new academic year in good health. Although we were unable to hold an entrance ceremony, I sincerely hope that from today you will study without restraint here as a member of the Hosei community.

I would like to focus on two topics. Firstly, what kind of university is Hosei? This is an important question, because during your time here I want you to make full use of the university to extend your own capabilities. Secondly, how will society change? You are already living in a different society from the one your grandparents and parents have lived in, and society and the world will continue to change. I hope you will consider your futures based on that understanding.

Has entering Hosei University given you confidence? Or have you lost confidence? Perhaps some of you feel confident and others unconfident. However, either way, you achieved the required high school grades and met the so-called hensachi (deviation value) standards for entrance exams. You have made sufficient effort to get here. But the abilities you showed in entering university are just a tiny part of the wide range of capabilities you each have. They are not all of the talents you have, nor are they your actual personality. Since university teaching staff know this, they make use of various methods in their classes and create learning communities in seminars while offering individual guidance. Through discussion and exchanges of opinion among students in these forums, you will encounter ways of thinking that differ from your own. This is an immensely significant part of university study, and a requirement for extending your own capabilities, because the world you will go out into is becoming increasingly diverse.

What kinds of directions will our teaching staff guide you in? The Hosei University Charter provides a compass for that journey. It starts by stating that “Hosei University was founded by a group of ambitious young men…for ordinary citizens.” Hosei University began as a law school created in 1880 by three men in their twenties. At that time Japan still had no national assembly and no constitution. Throughout Japan, young people were forming intellectual societies for the purpose of building a new country, studying for themselves, and discussing issues. Like its founders, Hosei University values the ability to think and act for the sake of others and society.

You can learn more about the history of the university in the newly-opened Hosei Museum. Digital signage touchscreens enable you to delve deeper into history. We also plan to open satellite museums on our Koganei and Tama campuses. At the same time, we will develop the resources into a digital museum viewable around the globe to bring our message to the world. It will be a growing museum.

To know more about Hosei University, it is helpful to pick out key phrases from our charter. It talks about creating a society “in which the rights of others are respected and diversity is accepted,” becoming “independent citizens who carry out their work … based on well-grounded principles and unrestricted thinking,” promoting “sound critical thinking based on sympathy for all people,” and continuing to create “ideas for solving social problems based on practical wisdom.” These concepts are encapsulated in the title of the charter, “Practical Wisdom for Freedom” which represents our promise to society. Hosei University values freedom above all. “Practical wisdom” means creating your own way of living by acquiring practical skills and knowledge to fulfil your ideals wherever you may find yourself.

Freedom starts from knowing the systems, structures, and history of the narrow world in which your own spirit is confined, and looking outward to a wider world. The idea of having to achieve an academic record determined by society and aim for a job with a top-ranking employer is shaped by the values prevalent from the Meiji era to the post-war years, when Japan had to catch up with Europe and America. We are all bound by the values of our times and the society we live in. “Conventional wisdom,” characterized by fixed ideas that are narrow and inflexible, has not changed much. Especially in Japan, people are expected to be the same as everyone else, or “normal.” However, we are entering an era when you will need to step beyond the world described by terms such as “conventional wisdom” and “normal” and extend your own array of skills and sensitivities, and embrace diverse ideas and values.

For example, people in America’s Silicon Valley, renowned for its cluster of IT companies, use the term “neurodiversity,” meaning diversity in sensitivities. It is used to include “non-neurotypical” people on the autism or developmental disorder spectrum, as compared to “neurotypical” people, meaning those not deemed to have a mental disability. People are starting to regard characteristics that have been termed “disabilities” or “symptoms” as they really are. It is important to be aware of the unique balance of various abilities that exist within you, and to develop these with the help of your teachers. New ideas are generated by bringing together people with different sensitivities, who emphasize different ways of thinking in organizations and communities.

Please remember one thing in particular. When you encounter a lecture, a book, or a person you cannot understand, listen, read, and enter into dialogue. In doing so, you have an opportunity to step beyond your present self, learn about new worlds, and develop new skills and values. When you meet people who do not understand you, describe your feelings and thoughts clearly in your own words. Your views may conflict, but without entering into that process you cannot begin to understand one another. When you cannot find the words to express yourself, search for them by reading extensively. You will definitely find them.

Hosei University supports you all in living freely. I encourage each of you, by amassing a variety of practical experiences, to aim for a world where you can live in freedom.

Once again, I welcome you to Hosei.