News & Event

September 2021 Entrance Ceremony Address

News & Event

Hello everyone and congratulations on your successful entrance into Hosei University. I am delighted to welcome you on behalf of the University as a whole, and I would like to say a big thank you to the families of participating students who are watching this ceremony online.

You have all joined Hosei University during the Covid-19 pandemic and, as such, we will have some new students who are, as of yet, unable to enter Japan and have no choice but to participate remotely in this entrance ceremony. We are keenly and equally aware of all our new Hosei University students whether you are participating online or in person here today. While our online participants can not yet physically come onto the Hosei University campus, you too become new members of Hosei University from today. For the time being, your Hosei University life will be spent in your own country, taking part in University lessons online. However, I ask you to be proactive and to please make full use of the means of communication that are open to you to participate in the Hosei University community. We are all very much looking forward to the day when we can welcome you in person onto the Hosei University campus in the not too distant future. 

More than 18 months have passed since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe and, unfortunately, we still cannot predict when, or how, it will come to an end. We are experiencing various restrictions in terms of our University activities, and our students are still unable to experience pre-Covid student life. It is unfortunate, but it is an undeniable fact. The essence of any university is to serve as a place where students and teaching staff are able to participate in education and research together. Student life is also enhanced by being able to participate in various joint projects and interactions with different external stakeholders who are involved in the University’s education and research activities. The advent of Covid-19 has greatly restricted these activities. In order to minimize the risk of infection, everyone is required to keep their distance even in classrooms on the same campus, and that means that people-to-people interaction also tends to be more distant, at least in the physical sense. Everyone is wearing masks, so, sadly, students only get to see their fellow classmates’ unmasked faces for the first time when lessons are held online. At this current point in time, we can not foresee when we will be freed from these constraints.

However, I believe we should look at the positive aspects of living as a student under these current circumstances. Why? Because we could learn things from living through the Covid era that would be hard to learn at other times. I believe that we currently have more and deeper opportunities to learn from our university education than we did prior to Covid.

Right now, we face different types of risk head on in our daily lives that we rarely would have come across before Covid. There is always some risk in every human life situation, but, under normal circumstances, that risk tends to be something of which we are theoretically aware but don’t truly sense or feel. Living with risks that you know could actually knock you down personally is not something we would generally experience in regular times. Today, we have to continue living our lives with a constant awareness of risks that are not so negligible that we can ignore them but neither are they so consequential that we have to deal with them in a constant state of utmost tension. In order to approach the risks we are currently facing in a rational manner, we have to learn to astutely recognize the scientific facts, to pinpoint reliable information in a sea of information of differing quality, to examine how that information relates to you personally, and decide how you intend to act. If you overestimate the risk, you might end up unable to do anything. However, underestimating the risk could end up harming not only your own health and life but those of the people around you as well. To avoid that, we are compelled to face up to the real necessity of consciously polishing our scientific awareness and carefully examining the information.

The abilities that I have just mentioned also form the essence of the skills we seek to nurture through university education. Studying at university in a situation where people have no choice but to exert those abilities means that students actually get to study in a learning environment that is more serious than usual. Of course, you would probably experience some unique things in these unusual times in primary or secondary education as well. However, experiencing this era while in higher education could prove an opportunity that brings significant benefits. Education involves communicating information that has been selected and judged to be correct, and also cultivating the ability to evaluate and select information for yourself. The latter aspect forms a much greater proportion of your learning in higher education than in primary or secondary education.

The Hosei University charter is entitled Practical Wisdom for Freedom. You can’t be truly free yourself or create a society in which many people can live freely simply by understanding the concept of freedom. You need practical wisdom to be able to remain free in the face of the various constraints and difficulties that exist in the real world. So, what can you do to somehow gain the abilities you are trying to acquire at university even under Covid restrictions? All of you are just embarking on your student lives in an environment where you will be required to use practical wisdom in order to live freely. Practical wisdom for freedom is not just a collection of knowledge, it is something that can be trialed and refined in actual daily life. We teachers do not stand in front of you on the podium as pioneers who have completed their practical wisdom for freedom journey. In fact, I think that our with-Covid Practical Wisdom for Freedom will be refined and polished by students and teachers facing the daily reality of Covid together and learning to make better choices every time.

I hope that the student life you are about to begin will prove fruitful for you, and I wish you all the very best for the journey ahead.