令和4年度 東京大学秋季入学式

| 式辞・告辞集インデックスへ |

Address by the President of the University of Tokyo
at the 2022 Autumn Semester Matriculation Ceremony

Congratulations to you all on your enrollment at the University of Tokyo. On behalf of the faculty and staff of the university, I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to your families who have supported you for so long.

This autumn, a total of 810 students have enrolled in our graduate schools and 32 students in our undergraduate college and faculties, including 675 international students. Our campuses are becoming increasingly international places where people can learn from each other’s different values and opinions and deepen their understanding of each other.

I am sure that you are all excited about studying and doing research at the University of Tokyo. In the 145 years since its foundation, UTokyo has produced high-level research in many fields, and we have a rich abundance of resources to support it. We will do our utmost to help you so that you can make the most of this environment and concentrate on your studies and research to the fullest.

Our world has experienced some severe shocks recently, first with the spread of COVID-19 since early 2020 and then with the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in February this year. Neither crisis shows clear signs of resolution yet. The pandemic has not only placed a heavy burden on healthcare professionals. It has also had a profound economic impact on countries throughout the world. It has brought to light many problems, including widening disparities in income and working conditions both in Japan and internationally. Poverty rates in developing countries, which had been declining, increased in 2020, and problems have emerged with the equitable distribution of vaccines and medical supplies.

The news reports each day on the destruction caused by the war and the suffering of the refugees are themselves difficult to bear. But equally disturbing have been the international political wrangling and the prioritization of national interests. Those issues have opened the door to further conflict, and they have revealed the dysfunction of international organizations based on multilateralism. It is as if we have returned to the nationalism and world wars that cast a dark cloud over the 20th century. Meanwhile, today’s world is connected by complex supply chains, and food shortages, price hikes, energy crises, and other problems are having a profound impact on people’s lives.

With today’s world more interconnected than ever before, we face many challenges for which systemic solutions are not yet available.

I would like to describe two examples now.

The first is the case of litigation about liability for climate change.

In 2015, a farmer in Peru named Saúl Luciano Lliuya filed a lawsuit against a distant party: the largest power company in Germany. Glaciers in the Peruvian Andes have been melting due to climate change, causing lake levels to rise and increasing the risk of flooding where the farmer lives. The lawsuit was based on calculations by researchers and an environmental organization that the German company had contributed to the melting of the glaciers by emitting around 7 billion tons of greenhouse gases over the previous 160 years. At first glance, the lawsuit seemed very unusual, and it was dismissed by a lower court. On appeal, however, a higher court ruled that further investigation was needed, and in May of this year, a group including both scientists and judges began a field investigation. This is the first time a full-scale investigation has begun in such a case, and many people are following it closely.

Of course, the plaintiffs must present scientific evidence. Also, that power company has been operating under German laws and regulations. How can that one company be held responsible for something going back more than a hundred years? Aren’t the consumers of electricity also responsible? Many such issues need to be resolved. But one might also ask how this case is different from lawsuits about air pollution released by factories into nearby areas. In those lawsuits, air is considered to be a local public good that is harmed by the pollution. Isn’t the suit against the German company just shifting the focus to the global public goods? Even if that company cannot be held legally responsible, doesn’t the human race as a whole bear some ethical responsibility? Cases like this show the inadequacy of our current system of laws and litigation.

My second example is the conservation of biodiversity.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which came into force in 1993, sets international targets on a regular schedule. One focus of the targets for the year 2030 is the treatment of genetic resources. The world’s developing countries possess many natural resources, including tropical rainforests. Those countries say that they own the genetic resources of the plants and animals within their territories, and they want a share of the profits from any activities that use those resources. On the other hand, developed countries that are trying to utilize those genetic resources argue that the resources should be accessible as the knowledge derived from those public goods benefits all of humanity. This controversy seems to be another dispute between the global South and North.

We need to establish rules that can be agreed upon by many countries, such as how genetic resources are defined, who has ownership rights, who is allowed to utilize them, and how the profits generated from them should be distributed and managed. Laws and regulations, as well as penalties, are also needed to address new technologies for using genetic information, because, in some cases, gene sequences can be used for research and development without any need to physically transport the plants and animals outside of the originating countries. While these issues were argued about even before the Convention on Biological Diversity came into effect, as the economic value of genetic resources rises, it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach any agreement. In 2010, procedures for the fair allocation of profits were written into the Nagoya Protocol, but their implementation remains controversial due to a lack of consensus on definitions and procedures.

Currently, a framework linking biodiversity conservation to corporate activities is also being developed. In the case of climate change, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, was established to reveal the impact of corporate activities on climate. In 2017, that task force released its final report about what should be disclosed by companies and other organizations. UTokyo Innovation Platform Company, or UTokyo IPC, an investment subsidiary of the University of Tokyo, has expressed its support for the TCFD. While the TCFD is focused on climate change, in March this year the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD, released a draft document on biodiversity disclosures, and discussions are now underway on what information companies should be required to disclose related to biodiversity.

These two cases show that it is difficult to solve global problems with our current systems and mechanisms. We need to establish new frameworks that involve many stakeholders.

That lawsuit about climate change raises the question of how we should manage our activities within the existing rules while still being held accountable for the impacts that our activities might have on other locations and on future generations. The current global trends in biodiversity raise the question of how the genetic resources of plants and animals, for which new applications are being discovered, should be linked to the well-being of all stakeholders. When designing new mechanisms, we cannot leave the rule-making to legal experts alone; instead, a comprehensive approach is required, one that incorporates scientific knowledge, an appreciation of the uses and potentials of technology, an understanding of economics and culture, as well as our moral values as human beings.

People have begun to criticize the practice of evaluating growth based only on economic indicators, such as the gross domestic product or gross national income. As shown by the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, a consensus has emerged that goals should be rooted in the principle that no one will be left behind. This represents a step forward for humanity as a whole, and the international community needs to continue re-examining its values in this way.

I strongly felt these changing attitudes when I went to Europe this spring to take part in the Stockholm+50 meeting. That event was held to mark 50 years since the conference in Stockholm that led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. That was in 1972. Participants came from all around the world to discuss the current state of planetary health. At the conference, I could see that we need to focus more effort on active cooperation and contributions from the Global North to the Global South over the climate crisis.

Another thing that impressed me was the active participation of young people at the conference. They came as representatives of the generation that will lead discussions 50 years from now leading to Stockholm+100. I really felt that it is essential for people of your generation to play a central role in solving these global-scale issues, as you are the ones who will be affected personally.

One thing that is important in such discussions is that they should be based on scientific evidence. The University of Tokyo, through our Center for Global Commons and in collaboration with research institutions around the world, has developed and published the Global Commons Stewardship Index. This index is an attempt to reveal the current state of countries’ impacts on the Global Commons and to build a system to monitor the changes. By publicizing this index, we hope to encourage evidence-based policymaking in each country as well as to promote changes in behavior.

The guiding principles of the University of Tokyo are described in the statement UTokyo Compass. Subtitled “Into a Sea of Diversity: Creating the Future through Dialogue,” UTokyo Compass emphasizes dialogue as the way to confront and resolve problems. Dialogue is not just a discussion or an exchange of information. Rather, it is the process of trying to know. In order to know, we need to ask questions. And to ask questions, we need to be interested in other people and have a real involvement in the matters being discussed. It is through dialogue that our understanding deepens and that we can build trust. I ask you all to try enriching your capacity for dialogue by engaging in in-depth dialogues with other people without assuming that you share the same assumptions.

We also need to engage in dialogue with evidence itself. Research is a dialogue with phenomena, a practice of dealing with data honestly in order to find solutions. In the field of economics, for example, empirical research has made remarkable progress owing to the development of estimation methods that establish causal relationships and the wide availability of micro-level data. It used to be considered impossible to do experiments in the social sciences, but now such experiments are being conducted frequently and much research is being published.

Let me give you an example from the field of education.

In order to reduce poverty in developing countries, it is important to increase the number of years that children spend in school in order to boost their human capital and increase their opportunities to work. To this end, countries around the world have adopted many different policies. Some of those policies add incentives on the demand side for children to attend school, such as free tuition, benefit programs that are contingent on school attendance, and school lunch programs. Other policies enhance the supply side, such as increasing the number of schools and teachers and improving teaching methods. Many studies have estimated the impact of each policy quantitatively.

Surprisingly, the most cost-effective policy turned out to be giving deworming medicine to schoolchildren in order to free them from intestinal parasites. It costs only about five dollars to extend one child’s schooling by one year using deworming medicine, compared with more than a thousand dollars per child through subsidy programs.

This finding tells us many things. Not only did parents have more incentive to send their children to school because of the free medication. There was also a dramatic reduction in the transmission of parasites between children, so more children were able to stay healthy. As a result, fewer children dropped out of school. And not only did their years of schooling increase. Later studies have also shown that the children’s nutrition improved and that, after they grew up, they had higher incomes and became bigger consumers. Thus the impact went far beyond education itself. This is a good example of how evidence acquired through research can be applied to policies that help people.

The first robust experimental studies of the effects of the distribution of deworming drugs were conducted by Professor Edward Miguel of the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor Michael Kremer of the University of Chicago. Professor Kremer later became a Nobel Laureate for his research.

As digital technology has improved, more research methods like this have been developed. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel imposed by many countries, there have been remarkable advances in the analysis and use of satellite imagery. New fields of study are emerging in which new knowledge is created using innovative methods for collecting and analyzing data. Those methods include the analysis of cellphone location and call data, the digitization of vast amounts of paper-based data, and analyses using machine learning.

While dialogue with evidence is important, I would also like to point out the danger of relying too much on collected data alone. There are truths that can be uncovered by analyzing a large number of samples and universalizing and abstracting them; however, we must not ignore the diversity and individuality of each observation, which can be lost when data is aggregated. We must also remember the conditions and methods under which evidence is found. There is always a risk that we will reach the wrong conclusions and draw the wrong implications. While a good understanding of principles and theories is important to verify our interpretations of empirical data, we must also be sure not to abandon individuality and specificity as we pursue universality. Also important is the autonomy that each of us has as a researcher—our ethics, our sense of responsibility, our ambitions. Our scholarly research can have a major impact on society, and our flights of creation must take off from a firm foundation.

Today, there is an abundance of data and analytical techniques available to us, and we can learn easily and acquire much knowledge through the Internet. The how skills—that is, the methods for analyzing phenomena—are becoming more and more sophisticated and specialized. Those of you in the younger generation may think that acquiring those skills is the most important factor in pursuing cutting-edge research.

However, today we also need to question more deeply what we create through our research, and we need to ask why we do that research to begin with. There are many textbooks and manuals on how to analyze, but no guidebooks about what to analyze or why we do so.

We need to ask these questions and search for answers ourselves, while at the same time asking together with other people and looking for answers with them. Don’t be afraid to engage in dialogue with people from other fields and other cultures. There is much joy and excitement to be found in the adventure of knowledge. The university that you have now entered, the University of Tokyo, is the ideal place for such explorations, and it is you who will build on our university’s great traditions to create a brighter future.

Congratulations once again on joining us at the University of Tokyo. I wish you all the very best of success here.

The University of Tokyo
October 1, 2022


(和文)令和4年度 東京大学秋季入学式 総長式辞









2015年にSaúl Luciano Lliuyaさんというペルーの農家が、遠く離れたドイツ最大の電力会社を相手に訴訟を起こしました。気候変動のためにペルーのアンデス山脈の氷河が融け出して湖の水位が増し、その農家の近隣地域に氷河湖決壊による洪水の危険性が増大しているというのです。NGOや研究者が算出したところ、そのドイツ企業は過去160年間に70億トンの温室効果ガスを排出し、この氷河の融解に加担した、というのが訴訟の理由です。一見すると奇異な訴訟で、第一審では退けられましたが、第二審では更なる調査が必要とされ、今年5月に、科学者、裁判官を含むグループが現地調査を始めたそうです。本格的な調査を開始する段階に至った初めてのケースということで、その成り行きが注目されています。



国連による生物多様性の保全に関する条約(Convention on Biological Diversity; CBD)は1993年に発効し、国際的な目標を定期的に策定しています。2030年までの目標設定で焦点のひとつとなっているのが、生物の「遺伝資源」としての取り扱いです。熱帯雨林など、多くの自然を保有する途上国にとっては動植物の遺伝資源は自国の資源であり、それらを利用した活動からの利益の還元を主張しています。他方、途上国の遺伝資源を活用しようとしている先進国側は、遺伝資源は人類の利益になる公共財として、容易にアクセスできるようにすべきであると主張しています。これも、一つの南北問題と考えてよいでしょう。


現在、生物多様性の保全を企業活動にリンクさせる枠組みの策定も進んでいます。気候変動に関しては、企業活動の影響を可視化するために、TCFD(Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures)という団体が設立され、企業及び組織が開示すべき項目に関する最終報告書が2017年に公開されました。東京大学の投資子会社である東大IPC(UTokyo IPC: UTokyo Innovation Platform Co., Ltd.)もこのTCFDへの賛同を表明しています。このTCFDは気候変動に関わるものですが、生物多様性についても同様に、TNFD(Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures)という団体から今年の3月に可視化の草案が発表され、企業にどんな情報の公開を求めるべきかという議論が進んでいます。



現代は、成長をGDP(Gross Domestic Product)やGNI(Gross National Income)のような経済指標だけで測っていた通念が批判され、持続可能な開発目標(Sustainable Development Goals; SDGs)に代表されるように、「誰一人取り残さない」という理念に基づいた目標が合意されるようになりました。それ自体は人類全体にとっても一歩前進であり、そうした価値の問い直しは、国際社会が今後維持していくべき方向性だと考えます。

今年の春に欧州出張に出かけ、「ストックホルム+50」という会合に参加した際にも、その機運を強く感じました。国連環境計画(UNEP)が設立される契機となったストックホルム会議から50年を経て開催されたこのイベントでは、世界各国からの参加者によって、Planetary Healthの現状が議論されました。そこでは、Climate Crisisを巡って、いわゆるGlobal NorthによるGlobal Southへの積極的な協力・貢献が、今後いっそう力を入れて取り組むべき方向性であることを感じました。


そうした場で重要になるのが、科学に基づいたエビデンスをベースとした議論です。東京大学でも、グローバル・コモンズ・センターを通じて世界各国の研究機関と共同でGlobal Commons Stewardship Indexという指標を開発、公表しています。各国の公共財の現在の姿を可視化し、その変化をモニタリングできるシステム構築の試みです。こうした指標を公表することが、まさにエビデンスをベースとした各国の政策決定につながり、行動変容を促すことにも寄与するものと考えています。

さて、東京大学の基本方針である「UTokyo Compass」には、「多様性の海へ:対話が創造する未来」という副題がついており、問題と向きあい解決に挑む「対話」を重視しています。対話とは、単なる話し合いや情報の交換ではなく、知ろうとする実践です。知るためには問うことが必要になります。問うためには、相手への関心、対象への具体的な関与が必要になります。対話を通して理解が深まり、信頼が築かれます。皆さんには自分の常識が相手の常識であると想定せずに徹底的に対話をし、対話力を磨いて欲しいと思います。





この虫下し薬配布の効果の実験研究を最初に行ったのは米国カリフォルニア大学バークレイ校のEdward Miguel教授と、シカゴ大学のMichael Kremer教授で、後にKremer教授はこうした研究をもとにノーベル経済学賞を受賞します。






藤井 輝夫