News & Event

President's Address at the 2022 Entrance Ceremony

News & Event

Hello everyone and welcome to Hosei University. My name is Katsuya Hirose, the university President. Congratulations on being accepted to Hosei University.

To protect the health of our community from Covid-19, we have restricted in-person participation in today’s ceremony to students only. However, I expect that many of your families are watching over you online via live video. To all the family members, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations. 

The 2022 academic year will be the third to start during the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, only seniors have experienced university life before Covid. For you incoming students, the pandemic has coincided with two out of three of your high school years. I don't think any of you experienced high school the way you imagined it would be in your freshman year. You have my deep respect for deciding your future path and earning the opportunity to enroll at Hosei University in such highly restricted conditions. You are sincerely welcome here.

My expectation is that your life at university will continue to involve various restrictions for some time longer. Based on experience from the last two years, we now understand quite well what kinds of activities entail risk of infection, and what kinds of precautions we can take with different kinds of activities to eliminate nearly all of that risk. We have confirmed that the risk of direct transmission in the classroom is extremely low. However, when it comes to extracurricular settings such as sports and cultural activities, there have been cases of group transmission when participants follow the guidelines loosely, with a careless or lax attitude. On the other hand, there are rare cases of infection when everyone fully understands—and religiously follows—the guidelines issued by each group or club. I recognize that you may be feeling pandemic fatigue, but please take these first moments at university to remind yourself of the importance of following these important rules. Compared to high school, university is a place where a far greater number of people come together from places both near and far. There are many benefits to being here that you can only reap in person. Only by taking care of each other and minimizing the risk of transmission can we harness the full potential of this place for making new friends and growing through collaboration. I am asking everyone who is part of this community to follow the guidelines. 

That said, this year will be like the last two in that we cannot rule out the possibility that certain activities or events will be restricted or postponed. There will still be some things you can't do that you wanted to do when you imagined life as a university student before the pandemic. Your activities as a university student, including study abroad, will inevitably and unavoidably be impacted not just by the Covid-19 pandemic but also by the international crisis stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The global spread of a pathogenic virus and shifts in international affairs are problems none of us can solve by ourselves. Your life as a university student will be limited by factors outside your control. At the very least, activities you would have taken for granted and done naturally as part of student life on campus in a typical pre-Covid environment you will no longer be able to do naturally in today's environment. This includes participating in exchange events and going on exchange programs at our overseas partner institutions in countries like Russia. However, even if you can't travel and meet people in person, there are now lots of communication tools at our fingertips. I believe you can accomplish, in some form, the goals of whatever you wanted to do, if you take full advantage of the means available to you even in our current circumstances. Though the result may look different from what you originally hoped, by tapping your own wisdom and creativity you can achieve the most important and central elements of what you have set out to do. That’s the kind of attitude today's circumstances require. That attitude or way of thinking is what it means to cultivate "Practical Wisdom for Freedom," as extolled in the Hosei University Charter. 

Obviously, we would all prefer not to have limiting factors, such as infectious diseases or the international crisis I just mentioned. Yet, when we face the reality that such factors exist here and now, it provides an opportunity for deeper learning we could never have without them. Living in a time when you could be exposed to an infectious disease means you are forced to think seriously about how people should relate to risks they can't fully avoid. Times like this—when things we took as certain in international relations, such as the basic principle of respecting a country's sovereignty and territory, are suddenly violated; and when those realities impact our own lives, whether we like it or not—brings home more earnestly the understanding that the institutions of society and the principles they are built on don't continue to exist as a matter of course, but are sustained only when people work deliberately to protect them. This understanding is often explained conceptually during normal times. I'm sure it’s been described many times over in the lecture halls of Hosei University. But there's a big difference between understanding it conceptually, and recognizing it as a felt experience in your own life. Today, as you embark on your life as a university student in this environment, I ask that you be aware of the fact that experiencing this understanding for yourself, willingly or unwillingly, offers the opportunity for deeper learning. 

Now then, I expect you will all hear the word "post-pandemic" more and more frequently as you go about your university life. History teaches us that pandemics and wars always end in some form. It behooves us to envision the world beyond that point. Society has gone through such dramatic change that we are unlikely to return simply to the days before the crisis. We must take all our experiences of hardship during this crisis and channel that energy toward building a society that is better and more desirable than ever before. That is my deep wish.

We know not what that society looks like yet. We are still at a stage where each of us has their own vague hopes and expectations. But society is not designed and built by the influence of any one person. It begins with the collaborative efforts of lots of different people creating new ways of doing things in different corners of society. Those efforts accumulate, influence each other, and form what we know as society as a whole. That process is about to get underway at full scale. 

But first we must start creating the university of the future. That work is getting underway at Hosei University, as it is at many other universities. Our task is to create a better, more appealing, more rewarding and fruitful university none of us has yet seen, not even our faculty and staff. I welcome all of you today as collaborators in that effort, and I truly look forward to carrying out Hosei University's mission together.