"Evolutionary neighbors: from genes to mind"
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honor to be here to join the first international workshop of HOPE, a core-to-core program supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. As the president of Kyoto University, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the renovated "international hall of centennial clock tower", a new landmark for the university.
Kyoto University was founded in 1897. It is the second oldest national university in Japan, and is regarded as a prestigious large-scale research university, which houses 15 graduate schools, 10 faculties, 12 research institutes, and 21 other centers.
Through its history spanning more than 100 years, the university has gained an excellent reputation for its scientific achievements and academic activities in various disciplines. A dedication to fieldwork is one of the unique features of Kyoto University. The Primate Research Institute is a key center for field sciences within the university.
Japan has a clear advantage in terms of the study of nonhuman primates in their natural habitat. There are no monkeys or apes in North America and Europe. However, we have an indigenous species: the Japanese monkey. Thanks to the country's unique natural environment, Japanese primatologists have made significant contributions to scientific research on nonhuman primates, revealing many aspects of the evolutionary origins of human nature.
The late Kinji Imanishi of Kyoto University can be regarded as the spiritual father of Japanese primatology. Imanishi began his study of wild Japanese monkeys in 1948, when he was a lecturer at this university. He collaborated with several of his undergraduate students who later became distinguished figures in the discipline themselves, such as Jun'ichiro Itani, Shunzo Kawamura, and Masao Kawai. The sweet-potato washing of Koshima monkeys first found in 1953 remains one of the best-known cultural behaviors among nonhuman animals.
Following on from their 10-year study of wild monkeys, in 1958 Imanishi and his colleagues traveled to Africa to launch their field project on the African great apes. This was two years before Jane Goodall arrived on the same continent to begin her study of wild chimpanzees. The pioneering activities of Imanishi and his students in the field resulted in the foundation in 1967 of the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, a national and international center for primate studies.
The pioneering fieldwork may have had at its root the most outstanding feature of Kyoto University's academic traditions: a respect for the spirit of freedom and independence. These notions may have arisen due to the university's location. Kyoto was the country's capital for almost 1,200 years, and has retained a degree of independence from Tokyo, the current capital, 500 km away. The university has cultivated unique cultural and philosophical traditions since its founding.
Respect for the spirit of freedom and independence is also deeply woven into research and study today. The university's researchers vigorously pursue original research in the spirit of academic freedom, and have produced globally significant results in a multitude of fields.
The HOPE project is a collaboration between the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. It aims to clarify the primate origins of human evolution. This line of research began at Kyoto University and its spiritual descendants have been continuously promoting the scientific understanding of primates, including humans, for more than 5 decades.
I sincerely hope that the HOPE project will add a new page to the history of pioneering work at Kyoto University. And I want to give my fundamental question to you, Prof.Matsuzawa, and especially young scientists of future generations, expecting you can give a clear answer from the development of this joint study. On the behalf of human beings, my question is,"Where did we come from?"
Thank you for your attention.