平成28年度秋季学位記授与式・卒業式 総長告辞

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式辞・告辞集 平成28年度秋季学位記授与式・卒業式 総長告辞

Address of the President of the University of Tokyo
at the 2016 Autumn Semester Diploma Presentation/Commencement Ceremony

Many congratulations to all of you. You have been awarded a doctor's, master's, professional, or bachelor's degree by the University of Tokyo. On behalf of the University, I extend my sincere congratulations. I also congratulate your families, who have supported you through your studies, and are present here today to join you in these celebrations.


529 graduate students completed courses this autumn. Of these, there are 243 doctor's degree graduates, 245 master's degree graduates, and 41 professional degree graduates. 60 undergraduate students have also graduated. Of these, 15 are the first graduates of the Programs in English at Komaba, or PEAK, an English-language undergraduate degree program. Also, 7 are the first graduates of the Global Science Course of the Faculty of Science, an English-language undergraduate transfer program for those who started their study at foreign universities. 346 of our students, about 60%, come from outside Japan.


Since its founding 139 years ago, the University of Tokyo, as an Asian university, has cultivated an environment for scholarship rooted in both Eastern and Western learning. We are honored that you chose to study and earn your degrees in this unique environment at the University of Tokyo.


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On this occasion, I would like to talk to you today about what we hope for your futures.


I hope all of you will become “knowledge professionals.” Some individuals contribute to humanity by employing their mental capabilities to create new value, through discovering, inventing, making or creating. I call these individuals "knowledge professionals." Your degrees are proof that you have the qualifications and character needed to flourish as “knowledge professionals.” Your degrees will be a source of pride for a lifetime. The University of Tokyo states in its Charter that it will serve the global public. I ask all of you to use the abilities you gained here to contribute to humanity throughout your lives.


The 20th century is often called the "century of science." The many innovative technologies emerging from new science have greatly improved the quality of people's lives and expanded humanity's sphere of activity. However, despite these scientific and technological advances, sometimes we are still powerless in the face of nature. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the earthquake in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures this April are examples of that. In Kumamoto and Oita, many precious lives were lost, including some of your age. I extend my sincere condolences to the victims.


Science and technology have greatly empowered humanity and accelerated the spread of globalization. The world, our earth, is becoming smaller. However, we must realize that we are still not equipped with the wisdom necessary to properly control this power. Our actions have worsened environmental issues, causing irreversible changes. These changes now threaten our continued existence. Today’s global problems, such as international disputes and religious conflict, are increasingly complex. The fundamental systems by which society operates cannot adequately address them in their current forms. Instead, disparity and instability continue to spread.


All of you have devoted yourselves to intensive study at the University of Tokyo. It is my earnest desire that as “knowledge professionals,” you will have the bravery, passion and ambition to face these problems that affect us all.


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Now, at this important milestone in your academic lives, I would like to say a few words about scholarship that I want you to take to heart as you go out into the world.


At the University of Tokyo, you received specialized education in your chosen fields. As academic research in both the sciences and humanities becomes more advanced, it fragments into multiple specialized disciplines. However, problems faced by human society cannot be solved while staying within the confines of one discipline. It is essential that your scholarship transcend the boundaries between academic disciplines.


This "pioneering spirit" is the heart of scholarship. Scholarship is the long and steady accumulation of new pieces of knowledge, joining them together to construct an academic framework. Through this process, something may emerge that appears different from anything that has come before. This is a paradigm shift. Such a paradigm shift is the appeal and excitement of scholarship. Endeavoring to reach these new academic heights is its essence.


In addition to a pioneering spirit, I want to emphasize the "time scale" of scholarship.


Japan is located in a seismically active region. So, observing and understanding the mechanisms behind earthquakes and volcanic activity is very important. Since its establishment, the University of Tokyo has actively developed technologies for measuring and observing such seismic activity and analyzed data obtained by them.


Earthquakes, astronomical events and other natural phenomena are the subject of the natural sciences. They are thus explained through scientific theory based on observational data. However, the time scales defined by the mechanisms of nature can far surpass the time scales of human activity.


The earthquake disaster that hit Kumamoto and Oita this April started with a large foreshock, followed by the main earthquake and countless aftershocks. This was unprecedented in recorded history. When we say “recorded history,” that covers only around 100 years of observational data. Extremely rare events such as massive earthquakes and supernova explosions occur on a scale of only once every several hundred to thousand years. Such an extensive time scale cannot be covered by humanity's still young history of scientific measurement. Nevertheless, humanity's intellectual pursuits started long before the dawn of modern science. The efforts of past individuals have been passed down to us through their written records. As an island nation, Japan in particular has a unique culture that has been passed down through the written word for over one thousand years.


Currently, two institutes at the University of Tokyo, the Earthquake Research Institute and the Historiographical Institute, are working together on a fascinating project. They are researching the numerous records of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions found in old journals and other historical documents from across Japan. After creating a database of these records, the researchers create a time and space-based distribution map of seismic activity, and combine this with earthquake and volcano research based on modern observations. By doing so, they can scientifically explain long-term seismic activity throughout Japan from historical times to the present age. Such systematic research that blends the sciences and the humanities is extremely important. The project presents a new approach to the critical task of predicting large earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that occur infrequently.


These historical documents come from a variety of individuals who recorded the events happening around them. They cover a time scale of over one thousand years. Until recently, they had been studied almost exclusively by scholars in the humanities and social sciences, as they were valuable materials for learning about the cultures and societies of the past. Now, they are also being used as data by researchers in the natural sciences. I believe that this project is a good example of how the length of the time scale of scholarship far surpasses that of the modern industrial society in which we live.


We must never forget that what supports this "time scale of scholarship" is the importance of language. Because we can understand the meaning of the language passed down to us from ancient times, we are able to logically analyze historical documents today. Over time, written documents have been collected and preserved with great care for long periods, with changes in language carefully noted. Our ability to understand the language of the past is a result of this hard work. At the Spring Matriculation Ceremony for Graduate School students this April, I introduced the achievements of Professor Shinkichi Hashimoto, who carried out research on the Japanese language at the University of Tokyo about one hundred years ago. His story illustrates the importance of language to the time scale of scholarship.


The modern Japanese language has five vowels, those are “A”, “I”, “U”, “E” and “O”. However, in the Nara period—which was around 1300 to 1200 years ago—Professor Hashimoto discovered that the Japanese language had eight vowels. In the Nara period, instead of the hiragana and katakana used today, kanji were used to express Japanese phonetics. Professor Hashimoto analyzed how the kanji were used and found that there was a set of rules regarding how to pronounce each kanji, and determined that vowels existed during the Nara period that are not in use today. During his research, he also discovered that the same topic had already been examined during the Edo period. Professor Hashimoto’s investigation and analysis explores continuities and discontinuities in the language used by the Japanese of an era over one thousand years ago that no one has seen or remembers. His phonological research carries great significance in placing a precise “time stamp” on the literary record of humanity's intellectual activities. Further, his research has also been of great value in locating the roots of the Japanese language. For generations, our ancestors have taken great care to accumulate and preserve written materials. By engaging in an imaginative dialogue with these documents and those who left them to us, it is now possible for science to use the fruits of humanity’s intellectual pursuits, nurtured over a thousand-year time scale.


This is an example of the excitement of research in pursuing the depths of truth that transcend the ages. The contributions of scholarship are not limited to changes in current society as it is at that moment. Those that came before us built many bridges connecting knowledge. Scholarship crosses these bridges in all directions and over long periods of time. We, too, construct new bridges connecting knowledge when we collaborate with others, and those who come after us will be crossing our bridges. Today, we are facing changes that happen at speeds and scales that humanity has never before experienced. In response to these changes, we must think hard about what choices we should make. The long time scale of scholarship will provide vital support to us as we make such decisions.


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As you go out into the world as “knowledge professionals,” you will need to transcend differences in nationality, region, gender, age, disability and religion to collaborate with a variety of individuals.


To do so, you must perceive yourself properly in relation to other individuals, and become recognized by others as someone who values diversity. It is important that you respect others, make efforts towards understanding people from around the world and the situations currently faced in various regions, and work to view yourself and others fairly. You must endeavor to hold the human rights of others in the highest respect, and never do anything that would infringe on those rights. I ask you to keep these principles in mind as you continue to learn and grow in your future careers.


The degrees that you have earned are acknowledgements from the University of Tokyo that you can flourish as “knowledge professionals.” This means that the University of Tokyo also shares the responsibility to work together with you in contributing to humanity. The University will help facilitate the creation of new areas of scholarship and interdisciplinary collaborations that you will need in the future. Going forward, we will continue to enhance the University of Tokyo's role as a global base for knowledge collaboration.


Your pursuit of knowledge will never end. Graduation does not mean the conclusion of your relationship with the University. Rather, this milestone marks the beginning of a new collaboration. The ties between you and the University will last throughout your lives. I sincerely hope that you will continue to work together with the University as we take on new challenges. Finally, I would like to wish you all well and every success in your careers.



Makoto Gonokami
The University of Tokyo
September 16, 2016




この秋、大学院を修了する者の数は529名です。その内訳は、博士課程が243名、修士課程が245名、専門職学位課程が41名です。また、60名の学部生が卒業を迎えます。このうち、15名がPEAK―Programs in English at Komabaの略、基本的に初等・中等教育を日本語以外で履修した学生を対象とし、英語のみで学位の取得を可能にするプログラム―の、また、7名がグローバルサイエンスコース―GSC、海外大学の学部課程を2年以上修めた留学生を編入させ、講義を全て英語で行うプログラム―の最初の卒業生になります。留学生の数は346名であり、全体のおよそ6割になります。




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東京大学総長 五神 真