On behalf of Kyoto University, I extend my hearty welcome to all participants attending this memorial meeting for the establishment of the Kyoto University - UNESCO-ICL UNITWIN Cooperation Programme on landslide risk mitigationfor society and the environment.
Kyoto University was established in 1897 as the second oldest national university in Japan. We are proud of the level of research and education, and our international character. Kyoto University has undertaken scholastic exchange agreements with 57 universities and 3 university groups of 23 countries at present, with more than 2200 foreign researchers visiting our university annually.
Kyoto University is promoting the 21st Century Centre of Excellence Programmes of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, in major research fields. One of these Programmes is Natural Disaster Science and Disaster Reduction, which is conducted at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University. Japan is very susceptible to various natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, and landslides. DPRI is the unique institute that specifically studies natural disaster science and mitigation strategies.
On 19 March 2003, UNESCO represented by its director-general, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Kyoto University represented by the former president Makoto Nagao, and the International Consortium on Landslides represented by its president Kyoji Sassa exchanged the agreement concerning the establishment of a UNITWIN Cooperation Programme on landslide risk mitigation for society and the environment in the framework of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, at the Kyoto University president room.
I understand that the main objectives of the UNITWIN Cooperation Programme are to promote education, research and capacity building in the filed of landslide risk mitigation at the global scale through the cooperation within universities and other organizations of higher education. Such objectives are in line with the mission of Kyoto University. Last year we decided to strongly support this initiative and provide funds to construct a headquarter office of the UNITWIN Programme. The office will be constructed this fiscal year facilitating the performance of this new UNITWIN programme.
As one of activities of this UNITWIN programme, a new international journal "Landslides": Journal of International Consortium on Landslides, will be published in full color starting in March this year. Thus far, no journal on Landslides has been published. Kyoto University supports this important initiative related to information dissemination.
Recognizing that the promotion of disaster prevention research is an important international duty of Japan, Kyoto University is certain to support further development of this new UNITWIN Cooperation Programme so that it effectively contributes to the sustainable development of the world through the progress of research and technology for the disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Finally, I extend my thanks for all of you for coming to Centennial Clock Tower of Kyoto University, and wish all of you success in your discussions to create a safer world at this meeting.