To all members of the University of Tokyo:
Today, I resumed my official duties after two weeks of medical treatment for COVID-19. I would like to express my gratitude to the students who attended the entrance ceremony and my colleagues who supported the university during my absence at the start of this new academic year.
During my treatment I observed firsthand how medical professionals worked selflessly day and night to care for COVID-19 patients. This strongly brought home the ongoing global struggle of medical professionals everywhere. I would like to express my sincere respect and gratitude for their devotion to their work. I also realized that no matter how careful we are about avoiding gatherings, wearing masks and disinfecting our hands, there is still a risk that nearby viruses will catch us unawares.
The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed more restrictions on our lives than we expected. The pandemic has highlighted discrimination and disruption around the world and in many cases the socially vulnerable have faced difficulties. The rapid development of vaccines, thanks to the sharing of information and many years’ accumulation of basic research on a global scale, is a silver lining to this unfortunate situation and a light of hope for people everywhere. I sincerely hope that the vaccine will quickly reach people in Japan and all over the world so that we can rebuild as soon as possible the personal bonds that have thinned and become fragile during the pandemic. I will firmly support the many ongoing research projects and initiatives at the University of Tokyo that tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and address post-pandemic social issues.
To our students: a new semester has started, new classes are beginning, and you will have many new experiences. This academic year, we will gradually resume face-to-face lessons and activities wherever possible while continuing to enhance and further improve our online and on-demand lessons. Each campus is taking thorough measures to prevent the spread of infection, so please start your campus life and work toward your personal goals while being suitably careful of the need to contain the spread of infection.
To our many international students who are still unable to join us on the University of Tokyo’s campuses: despite these difficult times, I implore you to make the most of the university’s online lessons and other resources so that your learning is not interrupted. We can only be patient and wait until free movement between countries is once again possible. Please do not hesitate to contact your faculty or department if you have any concerns.
This academic year the University of Tokyo will continue to aim for the highest levels of academic excellence, carrying out world-class education and research while expanding efforts to prevent the spread of infection. Remembering above all the importance of engaging in dialogue with society, I would like once again to take the first step together with our students, faculty, and staff members toward building an inclusive society which accepts all kinds of talent and individuality.
April 16, 2021
Teruo Fujii, President of the University of Tokyo