Click here to watch the video of the ceremony.
To our newly admitted students who have joined the Kyoto Institute of Technology as graduate students, and to those students who completed their master’s program here and will continue their studies at the doctoral level, congratulations on your enrollment. Today, we welcomed 16 students in master’s programs and 21 students in doctoral programs.
Once again, due to COVID-19 infections, we have no choice but to simplify this year’s ceremony while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, but it is with great joy and pleasure that we are able to hold this entrance pledge ceremony with you today.
This university is a Japanese National University founded over 70 years ago in 1949, and it will soon be 60 years since its graduate school was established. The current Graduate School of Science and Technology is now over 30 years old. The university was preceded by two schools established by the government during the Meiji period, one in 1899 and the other in 1902; both of these were industrial high schools that drove modern industry in Japan.
Needless to say, our school is located in Kyoto. As a city that has been around for over a millennium, Kyoto has fostered Japanese culture; it is a “town” that Japanese people want to visit at least once or in which they want to live, and now people around the world are saying the same thing. Perhaps this applies to you too?
Now, culture is something that is fostered by human activity based on industry. Since the creation of Heian-kyo, this increasingly refined “town” has had a deep connection to the Emperor, nobles, shrines and temples, and has seen the creation of a variety of “things” and “services” that have enriched people’s lifestyles with the changing of the times. People have come to respect traditions, while at the same time flexibly incorporating new technologies and ideas to create new value and generate social innovation. I hope that all of you who will lead lives as graduate students at KIT will assimilate the innovative power of Kyoto and make the most of it in your studies and in your research.
Now, I’m sure you’re all aware of the SDGs—the Sustainable Development Goals. The other day, I received an email from a university professor in Singapore who is a friend of mine. The email had an attachment: a PowerPoint that he had created for high school students to help research sustainable society. On the first slide, it said:
“How do you define sustainability for yourself?”
And went on to ask:
“How does your definition of sustainability change the way you live your life, and the way you approach problem-solving and design?”
He asked these questions of me, too.
Sustainability is threatened by global warming and pandemics of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Of course, I hope that society will make good use of the scientific and engineering accomplishments that you will all work on; nonetheless, I wonder what you think of when asked “How do you define sustainability for yourself?”
I thought that sustainability might amount to humanity being able to foster culture with peace of mind. Perhaps it is overambitious to consider how an individual can affect an elusive and vague subject like “culture.” However, if each of us enacts the things we notice during the creative work that humanity carries out every day, and challenges ourselves with problem-solving initiatives, we will foster culture in a form that changes slowly and gently with the times as it incorporates diversity. Continuing to take on the challenge of problem-solving initiatives—isn’t that sustainability in itself? The “sustainability” that I think of doesn’t have a goal; rather, continuing to think about sustainability is, itself, “living.”
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I hope that your graduate school lives will be fulfilling, that you will earnestly focus on your own research themes, and that you will experience personal growth. I look forward to your contributions to the sustainability of humanity.
Please do your best.
And with these words, I would like to conclude my address.
September 24, 2021
President, Kyoto Institute of Science and Technology