Congratulatory Message from President Gonokami upon Professor Takaaki Kajita’s Selection as a Recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

October 9, 2015

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Takaaki Kajita, Director of the University of Tokyo Institute of Cosmic Ray Research, upon his receiving the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. At the same time, I would like to express my gratitude to all areas within industry, the government and academia, and above all to the people of Japan, for so generously supporting our nation’s academic research.

Professor Kajita was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the “discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.” This is a groundbreaking discovery that makes us question the framework of modern physics, which we thought had been fully formed in the 20th century. As Professor Kajita stated during the conference, this research is truly “research that expands humanity’s horizon of knowledge.” Research into neutrinos was started in the 1970s by UTokyo Honorary Professor Emeritus Masatoshi Koshiba (the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Physics), and Japan is one of the pioneering countries in this field. Following Professor Koshiba’s retirement, his student Professor Yoji Totsuka and, in turn, Professor Totsuka’s student Professor Kajita came to spearhead this research. As the baton of leadership was passed down through these three generations of teachers and students, many students and researchers contributed to the research along the way. The use of free ideas as a starting point to seek out universal truths with reasoning and perseverance is the spirit that the University has valued most since its foundation. The research conducted by Professor Kajita and his predecessors is exemplary of this tradition.

This research became possible with the installation of large-scale experiment facilities (the Kamiokande and Super-Kamiokande) that owe their construction to original and magnificent ideas. The research, which spanned nearly four decades, was able to grow and thrive thanks to the sincere understanding and support of the public for academic research. Above all, during this long period of research, Japan became prosperous through its stable economic growth, and peace in Japan has been maintained. I would like to express my deep gratitude for these favorable circumstances that allowed the research to continue.

The University of Tokyo will persist in training students to become knowledge professionals who are supported by their basic abilities and deep breadth of intellectual understanding. Also, the University will continue to communicate our diverse and outstanding academic research to the international community. As the president of the University of Tokyo and as a researcher of about the same age, I would like to send my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Kajita, a knowledge professional and the pride of our University, for being honored with the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. I will continue to commit myself to empowering the University so that it can contribute to the academic knowledge of not only Japan but the entire world.

Makoto Gonokami
The University of Tokyo


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