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Message from President Gonokami Regarding the University Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019

March 18, 2020

Dear Members of the University of Tokyo Community:

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has undoubtedly caused a great deal of concern among all of us. As has been reported, the government of Japan issued a new series of guidelines aimed at containing the epidemic, as well as various support measures for the public, on March 10, following its initial announcement on February 13.

As president of the University of Tokyo, I have been carefully monitoring the situation over the period. I have formed a task force to cope with this crisis while maintaining close communication with the faculties, graduate schools and research institutes of the university to share the latest information. In order to keep our campus safe for every member of the university community, I have ordered specific directives, including cancellation of non-essential gatherings, meetings and extracurricular activities.

As we approach our new academic year in April, the university has made the following decisions. These measures to contain the spread of the virus will be implemented so that members of our community may safely pursue their study, research and administrative duties:

  1. The commencement ceremony will be shortened
  2. The new semester will start in April, as originally scheduled
  3. The number of in-person classes will be minimized and instruction through online courses will be encouraged and promoted
  4. Orientation sessions for online courses will be offered to faculty and students at the beginning of the new semester
  5. The matriculation ceremony will be canceled. The president’s speech and congratulatory addresses for incoming students will be made available online
  6. Campus access for non-university personnel will be restricted
  7. Strict public hygiene measures taken throughout the campuses will be continued

I have made these decisions in careful consultation with specialists at the university. They were not made lightly, as I fully understand that such events as the matriculation ceremony have special significance for our incoming students. But I am prioritizing the health and well-being of every member of the University of Tokyo.

As we transition to more online courses, the University of Tokyo will be relying on our past experiences of developing various online tools and platforms for classroom instruction. I urge our faculty members to utilize these resources to continue their educational and academic efforts in this age of digitization and globalization.

For now, our immediate goal is to end the spread of the virus as soon as possible. I call on every member of the community to remain vigilant and continue to take precautionary measures.

Today at a news conference, researchers at the University of Tokyo announced that they have succeeded in identifying compounds that respond to the virus, and are developing new drugs that may contribute to treating the disease. Together with the tireless efforts of world-class researchers at this university, I assure you that we are using every available resource so that we may return to safely pursue our academic and research interests again.

As outlined in the University of Tokyo’s Vision 2020 action plan, I pledge the university will act as a creative hub for the world’s scholarly research and knowledge, and continue its efforts to confront this new challenge posed to all humankind. I shall keep updating you and continue taking all the necessary measures to respond to this difficult situation.

The University of Tokyo

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