Speech delivered at the 2014-2015 Graduate School Commencement Ceremony (23 March 2015)

Juichi Yamagiwa, 26th President

Today, Kyoto University is proud to award master's degrees to 2,179 students, professional master's degrees to 158 students, juris doctor degrees to 141 students, and doctoral degrees to 608 students. Let me begin by offering my sincere congratulations to all of you on your accomplishments.

This year's recipients include 325 international students. With today's ceremony, Kyoto University will have awarded, to date, master's degrees to 72,206 students, professional master's degrees to 1,233 students, juris doctor degrees to 1,720 students, and doctoral degrees to 41,753 students. On behalf of our guests of honor, former President Makoto Nagao and my predecessor, former President Hiroshi Matsumoto, the Executive Vice-Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Deans, and Directors here today, and all other faculty members and staff, congratulations to each and every one of you on receiving your graduate degrees today.

Master's and doctoral degrees awarded by Kyoto University are granted in any of 23 different fields of specialization; for example, the field "Doctor of Letters". I am genuinely proud and delighted that you have worked so hard to hone and perfect your skills, constantly learning from and inspiring one another across such a diverse range of specialist areas. Your graduate school commencement today is both the destination that you have been working toward and the launching pad for your future lives. I am confident that the academic degrees that you receive today will be of great help to you in carving out your career paths. Since I became president in October last year, we have developed the WINDOW Concept, which is aimed at developing the kind of university in which students play the main roles. We see the university as a window which opens out onto society and the world, and we have made it the shared mission of the university as a whole to develop the abilities of talented students and young researchers and launch them out into the world to pursue successful careers in their respective areas of endeavor. We seek to educate and develop people who are intellectually unrestrained and yet circumspect, and who can make their own decisions and act independently while generating creative ideas, undaunted by the rapid pace of global change and development. I hope that you will all become shining examples of this concept in your future professional or academic careers. The WINDOW Concept also advocates establishment of a society of hope by supporting women in pursuing successful careers, and incorporates Action Plans for Promoting Gender Equality. There are 763 women among the students who are receiving graduate degrees today, and we are confident that that number will continue to grow year by year. I look forward to you utilizing your experience and abilities to pursue careers which support realization of a society in which men and women can enjoy working together without discrimination.

Looking through the report on the dissertations for which students are receiving degrees today, I noted that, as one might expect, many students have tackled topics which reflect developments that have taken place in our world in recent years. Their research covers such topics as contact with different cultures as a result of globalization, coexistence of various cultures, human migration, global-scale climate change and disasters, rethinking legal and economic systems to adapt to rapid social changes, and new methods of treatment for mental illness and a number of other medical conditions.

For example, the problems of coexistence which may arise as a result of human migration and contacts between races or between cultures are addressed in papers such as: "The formation process of ethnicity in multi-ethnic fields of contemporary Japanese society: A case study of cultural practice among Okinawan immigrants in Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama," by Daisuke Yasui of the Graduate School of Letters; "Globalization and diversity in migration to Japan: Migration, whiteness and cosmopolitanism of Europeans in Japan" by Milos Debnar also of the Graduate School of Letters; "Socio-Economic Change of Agro-Pastoral Settlers and Their Co-Existence with Local Population: A Case Study of the Sukuma on the Rukwa Lakeshore in Tanzania" by Naoaki Izumi of the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies; and "Examining the roles of multiple stakeholders in dam-forced resettlement of ethnic minorities in Vietnam" by Jane Singer, who received a doctoral degree by dissertation.

Dissertations which tackle the topic of responses to global-scale climate change and disasters, and manmade environmental changes, include: "Properties of bed load sediment and riverbed deformation and improvements in the ecological systems of rivers in rivers with fixed bed drainage basins" by Tomoko Kyuka of the Graduate School of Engineering; "Empirical analyses of human-machine interactions focusing on driver and advanced driver assistance systems" by Tabinda Aziz also of the Graduate School of Engineering; "Environmental conditions and dryline influence on the occurrence of severe local convective storms in Bangladesh during the pre-monsoon season" by Fatima Akter of the Graduate School of Science; "Earthquake disaster preparedness for tourism industry in Japan and China" by Wu Lihui of the Graduate School of Informatics; and "Development of methods to provide information forecasting heavy rainfall on the basis of short-term rainfall forecast methods and estimation of errors in forecasts taking into account the layered structure of rainfall phenomena" by Nozomu Takada, who received a doctoral degree by dissertation.

Dissertations which address economic and social changes include: "Critical examination of seed and genetic information management systems: Focusing on theories justifying ownership and seed systems" by Aki Imaizumi of the Graduate School of Agriculture; "The transition of farming systems causing forest degradation in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia" by Sanara Hor of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies; and "Reformation and upheaval in free market capitalism: Contemporary comparative socioeconomic analysis" by Takumi Horibayashi of the Graduate School of Economics.

The dissertations focusing on recently identified medical conditions and health issues include: "A lack of self-consciousness in Asperger's disorder but not in PDDNOS: Implication for the clinical importance of ASD subtypes" by Sayaka Yoshimura of the Graduate School of Medicine; "Specificity of CBT for depression: A contribution from multiple treatments meta-analyses" by Mina Honyashiki also of the Graduate School of Medicine; "Studies for maximizing the value of antibody drugs against tumors" by Yoriko Kashima, who received a doctoral degree by dissertation; and "Changes in sexual behavior and attitudes across generations and gender among a population-based probability sample from an urbanizing province in Thailand" by Techasrivichien Teeranee of the Graduate School of Medicine.

In addition to such research on recent natural and social phenomena, a broad range of basic research activity was also conducted over a wide variety of themes from around the globe. For example, "The literature of women writers in the Heian Period and the Chinese Literature: The case of Michitsuna no Haha and Sugawara no Takasue no Musume" by Zhang Ling of the Graduate School of Letters; "Park barrel politics: Economic analysis of distributive politics" by Kazunobu Ohkubo of the Graduate School of Economics; "The anti-classical originality carved out by the works of director Robert Altman in the New Hollywood era: Analytical study of reform in the narrative as a whole through phonetic and visual experimentation from 'Countdown' (1967) to 'Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson' (1976)" by Tomoe Ono of the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies; "Cohesion and behavioral synchrony among females in a wild group of Japanese macaques" by Mari Nishikawa of the Graduate School of Science; and "Analysis of the blue-light response and blue-light receptor phototropin function of liverwort (marchantia polymorpha)" by Aino Morii of the Graduate School of Biostudies. The titles alone entice one to read on in order to learn more about the research. Many more outstanding dissertations have been produced by students tackling topics that are beyond my capacity for understanding and I cannot help but feel surprised by the diversity of the research that you have produced. I am confident that such diversity, creativity, and capacity for forward thinking will lead to concepts and innovation which will one day change the world.

I, too, received my doctoral degree by dissertation from Kyoto University, at the age of 35. That was 28 years ago in 1987. My doctoral dissertation dealt with the life cycle of the male gorilla. I had to change the location of my fieldwork because it was difficult to obtain data on wild gorillas and, as I also found employment in the interim, there was a significant delay in writing my dissertation. I remember losing confidence in myself on numerous occasions and that there were times when I almost felt like admitting defeat. But, I was able to keep going and complete my dissertation because of the excitement I experienced in witnessing things that no one else had seen before, and thanks to the support of my supervisor and fellow students, who allowed me to give the discoveries that I made places in academic theory.

My supervisor, Professor Junichiro Itani, never once supervised me in the field. American researcher Dr Dian Fossey, who gave me guidance on methods of observing gorillas in the field, was murdered by a person or persons unknown in 1985, before I had finished writing my dissertation. However, the guidance of those two scholars helped me to acquire literacy in fieldwork. The key is to not be impatient for results. Even if you don't achieve the results you are expecting, it is important to take it on board, take a fresh look at the world, and adopt a different way of thinking. If you immerse yourselves in the fields that you are researching, and look as closely as you can, at some point you will catch a glimpse of worlds that are wonderful in ways that you never expected. It is crucial that you do not miss that moment. Professor Itani described it as the moment "when nature smiles". It could be the universe smiling, or it could be people smiling. Through the subject of your research, a new world will come into focus, giving you a moment of "wonder". This is the special privilege to which researchers are entitled. However, in order to enjoy that privilege, it is necessary to develop literacy as a researcher.

The graduates gathered here today are people who have been able to catch glimpses of the wonderful worlds that they have pursued in the process of completing their degree dissertations. Whether or not you will experience those moments of wonder again in your professional careers, or in the world of research, depends on whether or not you are able to retain your literacy as researchers. Due to the succession of incidences of fraud by scientists which have been uncovered of late, the work of researchers is coming under considerable criticism from other areas of society. I hope that each of you will draw on the pride and experience that you have acquired and developed through your research here at Kyoto University in order to pursue brilliant careers.

Once again, let me offer my sincere congratulations to each and every one of you, here today.