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International Symposium: Circular Economy and Sustainable Society - May 30, 2007 -

Kazuo OIKE

Upon the commencement of this international symposium on Circular Economy and Sustainable Society, it is my great pleasure to offer my greetings on behalf of Kyoto University in Japan.

This symposium, which is being held in the city of Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, is a joint undertaking by the Integrated Research System for Sustainability of Japan, the Kyoto Sustainability Initiative, Ritsumeikan University, and China’s Zhejiang University. As the Director-General of the Kyoto Sustainability Initiative, one of the event’s organizers, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who was involved in the preparation of this event. I would particularly like to thank all of the local people involved, especially the people of Zhejiang University.

Zhejiang University is one of China’s most prestigious and historical universities. It was founded in 1897 as the Qiushi Academy. Located in Zhejiang province, approximately 180 kilometers southwest of Shanghai, the university became known as "the Cambridge of the East." During the 1952 readjustment of China's Tertiary Education System, Zhejiang University was split up into a number of single-discipline colleges.

In 1998, with the approval of the State Council, a new Zhejiang University was established through its merging with Zhejiang Agricultural University, Zhejiang Medical University and Hangzhou University. A comprehensive university, Zhejiang University has eleven faculties: philosophy, literature, history, education, science, law, economics, medicine, agriculture, management and engineering.

Kyoto University, also founded in 1897, is the same age as Zhejiang University, and is also one of its country’s historic national universities. And naturally we are proud of our rich history as a comprehensive university.

Zhejiang University consists of six campuses, namely Yuquan, Xixi, Huajiachi, Hubin, Zhijiang, and Zijin'gang. The campuses have a total area of 5,330,000 square meters and a floor space of 2,008,000 square meters. The university has 25,071 undergraduates, 11,207 postgraduates working for master's degrees and 5,525 Ph.D. candidates. The university library has a collection of more than 6,177,000 volumes, and the university has 6 affiliated hospitals.

Among the university’s alumni is one of China’s first Nobel Prize laureates, Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1957. He received the award for his insightful contributions to research into parity, in the field of particle physics. A Chinese-American, Dr. Lee was born in Suzhou in 1926, and began attending Zhejiang University in 1943. In 1956, together with Doctor Chen Ning Yang, Dr. Lee formulated the theory that weak force interactions between elementary particles did not have parity (mirror-reflection) symmetry, and that this was the explanation for previously inexplicable phenomenon relating to the decay of kaon particles. This theory was experimentally verified in 1957 by Dr. Wu Chien-Shiung who devised an effective test method for beta decay, a physical phenomenon involving weak force interaction. Both Dr. Yang and Dr. Lee received the Nobel Prize for their achievements in 1957.

January 23rd, 2007 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japan’s first Nobel laureate Hideki Yukawa, and March 31st 2006 was the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Shinichiro Tomonaga, Japan’s second Nobel laureate. These two Nobel laureates were classmates who studied together in the Third High School and Kyoto University. Following their graduation, they began their careers as researchers at Kyoto University. Kyoto University is proud of these distinguished alumni and therefore designated the academic year 2006~2007 as a year of commemoration for the two scholars, holding various commemorative events.

Dr. Hideki Yukawa was a theoretical physicist. He became Japan’s first Nobel laureate when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1949. Kyoto University, therefore, has the distinction of having produced its country’s first Nobel laureate – a distinction that we share with Zhejiang University.

The capital city of Zhejiang province is Hangzhou. To the north lie Jiangsu province and Shanghai municipality; to west, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces; and Fujian province lies to the south. To the east is the East China Sea, and there are many islands along the coast. Among China’s provinces, Zhejiang is said to have the most islands. The inland area is hilly, and Anji County in Huzhou is famous for producing bamboo.

Gifu City in Japan made a Friendship City relationship with Hangzhou in 1979. In 1962, ten years before the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, monuments were erected in the two cities, each bearing an inscription written by the mayor of the partner city. The inscriptions express two mayors’ hopes for peaceful relations between Japan and China. On the monument in Hangzhou City, the inscription, written by the mayor of Gifu City (then Mayor Matsuo Gosaku) reads  – “An end to war between China and Japan.” The Gifu City monument, which stands in the city’s Japan and China Friendship Garden, reads  – “May friendship between Japan and China endure for generations.”

One of the fundamental principles of Kyoto University’s Mission Statement is the pursuit of “harmonious coexistence within human and ecological community on this planet.” To achieve a sustainable society, we must first aim to achieve harmonious coexistence within the global community. We must, therefore, carefully consider the various factors which have a negative impact on coexistence in the global community.

The most destructive force to the community of this planet and to its natural environment is war. In view of this, the monument which stands in Hangzhou City, with its inscription of “An end to war between China and Japan” (  ) , is extremely significant.

The next important objective is the construction of a secure and safe community. East Asia is a region which is subject to frequent and severe natural disasters. It is of great importance that Japan and China collaborate with each other to undertake research on this problem; we must share information, and we must engage in collaborative educational efforts.

It is also crucial when discussing environmental issues that we thoroughly understand the present structure and condition of the Earth. For that reason it is necessary for Japanese and Chinese universities to undertake collaborative research in Earth science fields as a common concern.

In the field of earthquake observation, for example, China has a long history stretching back into ancient times. Records of earthquakes can even be found on ancient bone carvings, and seismographs were already in use by the Han Dynasty. Having inherited those ideas from China, Japan also possesses ancient records of earthquakes. In China such records date back 3000 years; in the Korean peninsula, 2000 years; and in Japan 1500 years. East Asia has the widest ranging and longest history of earthquake recording of any area in the world. By exploiting this, we can gain an understanding of the world’s seismic history. In the same way, historical records of various meteorological phenomena could be used to deepen our knowledge of the history of the planet Earth.

Cooperation between our two countries’ universities, such as this international symposium which is being held in the historical province of Zhejiang, is of great significance, and I am certain that this event will be a valuable step towards the goal of realizing a sustainable community in the 21st century.

It is my sincere wish that all present will engage in successful and fruitful academic exchange and discussion. Thank you very much for listening.

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