平成30年度 東京大学秋季学位記授与式・卒業式 総長告辞

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Address by the President of the University of Tokyo at the 2018 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.

664 graduate students completed their programs this autumn. There are 274 doctoral degree program graduates, 334 master’s degree program graduates, and 56 professional degree program graduates. 54 undergraduate students have also graduated. Of these, 16 are graduates of Programs in English at Komaba, or PEAK, an English-language undergraduate degree program. In addition, 5 are the 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. 462 of our graduating students, or about 64%, come from outside Japan.

As you take your well-earned diplomas in hand, I am sure that many of you are looking back over your days at the university, remembering moments of joy and the challenges you have overcome. Through your interactions with your fellow students and faculty, I imagine that many of you will have experienced the university as a place for creating new knowledge.

From today, you will go out to engage with society as knowledge professionals. Knowledge professionals are those who employ their intellectual capabilities to create new value, through discovering, inventing or generating new ideas. In other words, they contribute to society through the application of knowledge.

Today, I would like to talk about the importance of fostering and maintaining a broad perspective as a knowledge professional.

The twentieth century is often called the century of science. New sciences gave birth to revolutionary technologies that dramatically improved our quality of life and vastly expanded the scope of human activity.

The Hayabusa2 project is one such example. This is a project being carried out by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aiming to bring back samples from an asteroid. We recently learned from media reports that the spacecraft Hayabusa2 had reached its target, the asteroid Ryugu, some 300 million kilometers from Earth. There it will collect samples to bring back to Earth which will help us understand the origin and evolution of our solar system. Hayabusa2 has been travelling through space for three and a half years since it was launched in December 2014, approximately the same period of time – two to three years – that many of you have spent at the University of Tokyo. It has finally reached its objective.

The University of Tokyo is deeply involved in this unique project. Professor Seiji Sugita and Professor Shogo Tachibana of the UTokyo Organization for Planetary and Space Science played a central role in developing Hayabusa2’s science instruments such as optical cameras and devices for sampling materials (sampler system).

Ryugu has a diameter of just 900 meters and is thought to have water and organic substances on its surface. Hayabusa2 will use these science instruments to gather samples and data from the asteroid for physical and chemical analysis. These data and samples will give us a deeper understanding of the asteroid’s properties and new insights into the evolution processes of planets and our solar system. I’m also excited to discover what we will learn from this mission.

Some spacecraft are probes like Hayabusa2 that travel far into space. But let’s come back a little closer to planet Earth and think about the many satellites that orbit very close to our home world, gathering and providing all sorts of data. Among them are some that are already essential in our daily lives, such as weather satellites that gather images of cloud cover or GPS satellites that provide us with location information. Observing the Earth from space also gives us a bird’s-eye view of the planet as a whole and a broader perspective on what is happening on the surface. Gaining a broader perspective like this can expand the horizons of our knowledge.

More than 4,000 satellites now circle our planet. In recent years, many organizations have been launching smaller and cheaper observation satellites to low altitude orbits. Professor Shinichi Nakasuka at the Graduate School of Engineering is a leader in this field. His group specializes in extremely small nano-satellites. When using nano-satellites for observation, you lose on resolution somewhat, but you gain greatly on the frequency of observations. Manufacturing time is also much quicker than for a large satellite, so it is possible to build multiple nano-satellites while developing new technologies. Building and launching multiple smaller satellites allows a business to spread the risk involved, making it much easier for private capital to invest in these projects. As a result, there are many such projects already underway. The vast amount of data that these satellites already send back on a daily basis is the typical example of big data. The use of this big data should lead to great developments in fields that would benefit from regular observation from above, such as agriculture and fisheries, or natural resources exploration.

Today, we are continuously gathering all sorts of data, and not just from satellites. With advances in sensor technology, information processing, artificial intelligence and communications infrastructure, the use of big data is becoming an important trend in many fields. But it is important that we deeply understand the meaning of all this data we are collecting. Technology alone cannot tell us if we can make full use of that data. Perspectives from politics, economics and the social sciences are absolutely vital when we make that decision.

We are already living in a big data society. Even so, we often find ourselves drowning in a sea of information rather than obtaining a comprehensive overview of our personal information from a broader perspective. Every day, most of you access all sorts of information through your smartphones and computers, but the information you access is only a tiny drop from the ocean of data that surrounds us. Unless you make a conscious effort, you only seek out the kind of stimulating information that meets your personal interests. As a result, most of us tend to focus on recent information about events that are in some way familiar.

After a while, we also tend to forget information that we once thought was important. The same is true in learning. Specialization of advanced academic disciplines often leads to segmentation. You will not learn of developments in fields outside your specialty if you do not consciously look for that information. Even so, being aware of what is going on in multiple fields does not mean that it is easy to develop a broader perspective on all that information. We need to constantly and consciously hone our sensitivity to what is happening around us to obtain a broader perspective.

Having such a broad perspective is also very important when it comes to understanding “change.” We tend to focus more on sudden and exciting changes, but long-term changes that take place over generations can also greatly affect society. One way of looking at this is to see long-term change as the integral of many daily changes and our responses to them. Consequently, it is important to maintain a broad perspective over a long timeframe in order to succeed.

We are often concerned about whether long-term change will turn out to be desirable or undesirable, but the very idea of what long-term change is desirable or undesirable changes over time. Until recently, achieving economic development was considered the most important priority. Economic development would lead to GDP growth which is desirable in the long term and should in turn lead to a better future. But is this always the case?

Advances in science and technology have greatly empowered humanity. They have also brought unprecedented changes, including global warming and environmental degradation, regional disparities and deepening religious conflicts. These increasingly complex and serious issues are threatening the sustainability of humanity as a whole. As the world’s population continues to grow and we acquire ever greater power, we are forced to confront the reality that our planet is a finite environment. We must now think seriously about how to achieve harmonious development, not just economic development, to head towards a better future on this smaller planet. It goes without saying that we need a broad and long-term perspective that encompasses the whole world if we are going to overcome these challenges.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are an action plan for the prosperity of humanity and the Earth. Many of you might be familiar with the SDGs from reports in the media. The SDGs set forth 17 goals with keywords such as “no poverty,” “quality education,” “good health and well-being,” and “climate action.” This clearly shows that GDP is not the only indicator of our future development. All of these goals require long-term commitment on a global scale. Moreover, none can be realized through science and technology alone. We need to develop a broader perspective and understand what safety and peace of mind mean to humanity.

We need diverse approaches to develop a broad perspective. The University of Tokyo has rich and diverse academic resources covering wide range of fields across science and the humanities. It is the ideal place for conducting academic research with such a broad perspective in mind. Contributing to the SDGs is also in line with the University of Tokyo’s spirit of serving the global public. Making use of these goals and the great breadth of the university’s accumulated learning, I want to take concrete action that will contribute to the future of humanity and our planet. Last year, we established the Future Society Initiative (FSI) to coordinate that action. We already have over 180 projects registered with the FSI and which incorporate a broad range of perspectives from the humanities and sciences.

Natural disasters are a major cause of concern for society when it comes to ensuring safety, security and peace of mind. This year alone, a major earthquake hit Osaka in June, heavy rains took the lives of more than 200 in western Japan in July, and many deaths were reported from the heat wave that covered Japan this summer. Just this month, another major earthquake in Hokkaido caused widespread landslides and took many fatalities. I offer my sincere condolences to the victims and their families and hope for a speedy recovery of the affected regions.

Japan is prone to natural disasters. The disaster of a major earthquake can drastically change the very structure of our society and how our country is organized. Coping with such disasters requires tackling issues related to humanity’s safety, security and peace of mind. These issues cannot be solved by science and technology alone.

A major earthquake in the Nankai Trough stretching from Shizuoka Prefecture to Kyushu, is viewed as certain to happen in the not-distant future. For the last 40 years, the government maintained an earthquake prediction policy for the Tokai earthquake. Last year, the government ended this policy, marking a major transformation in Japan’s earthquake and disaster readiness. This was of course major news in Japan. The reality is that for the last twenty years or so, scientists have realized that it is impossible to predict an imminent earthquake. It took society twenty years to catch up.

This twenty-year gap shows that this is a highly complex issue that involves the interplay of society and the varied beliefs, intentions and actions of individuals, and cannot be resolved by science and technology alone. It goes without saying that we need a broad perspective to tackle such issues, a perspective that cuts across the divisions of the sciences and humanities. A long-term perspective, backed up by Japan’s unique experience and long history of recording natural disasters, is also valuable.

Under the Future Society Initiative, the University has created the Collaborative Research Organization for Historical Materials on Earthquakes and Volcanoes to encourage research collaboration between the Earthquake Research Institute and the Historiographical Institute. The organization is gathering and analyzing numerous records of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions found in old records and other historical documents across Japan. These historical documents offer scientific data on the occurrence of these events, but also about how past Japanese society thought about safety, security and peace of mind. Combining this historical knowledge with scientific data from earthquake and volcano research, we can gain a long-term, broad perspective on seismic activity that occurred from historical times to today that will help enhance our readiness to future disasters.

This is just an example of how a broad perspective can help tackle social issues. We can also see in many other fields how the challenges arising from the interaction of technology and society are connected in complex ways.

You all have received degrees from the University of Tokyo today. I hope each of you will actively engage with society as knowledge professionals throughout your lives, and will take the lead in solving such complicated global issues. I hope you will gain a broad perspective that looks to the past and stretches into the future, that reaches around the world and across the boundaries between academic disciplines. I am sure that such a broad perspective will contribute to solving the many challenges that humanity faces while enriching your lives.

You may face tough challenges. You may feel helpless at times. Remember that you can always turn to the University for help. The University of Tokyo will always be with you. Graduation does not mean the conclusion of your relationship with us. 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 collaborate with the University as we take on new challenges and contribute to creating a better future society for all.


Makoto Gonokami
The University of Tokyo
September 14, 2018

(和文)平成30年度 東京大学秋季学位記授与式・卒業式 総長告辞


















2015年に国連において、人間、地球及び繁栄のための行動計画として「持続可能な開発目標(SDGs : Sustainable Development Goals)」が採択されました。最近ではメディアによって紹介されることも増えてきたので、皆さんも良くご存知だと思います。そこで示された17項目の目標には「貧困」「教育」「安全」「気候変動」などのキーワードが含まれており、GDPだけが我々が目指す未来でないことが明確化されています。どれも地球規模の長期的な取り組みを必要とするものです。またどれも、科学技術的視点のみでは解決できません。人類社会の安全安心とは何かを俯瞰的視点で捉えることが必要です。









東京大学総長 五神 真