2016 Doctoral Graduation Ceremony Remarks (23 September 2016)

Juichi Yamagiwa, 26th President

Congratulations to the 190 new doctors who are receiving their degrees from Kyoto University today.

Those we celebrate on this occasion include 58 students from outside of Japan. These conferrals will bring the total number of students to date who have received a doctoral degree from Kyoto University to 42,746. I, along with the Executive Vice-Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Deans, Assistants to the Executive Vice-Presidents, and other faculty members who are here with us, want to offer our heartfelt congratulations to all of you.

At Kyoto University, doctoral degrees are granted in 22 different fields of specialization; for instance, "Doctor of Letters". I am genuinely proud and delighted that you have worked so hard, day and night, to hone and perfect your skills, learning from and inspiring one another, in all of these fields of study. Today's receipt of your doctoral degree represents both the destination that you have been working toward and the launching pad for your future. I hope that this advanced academic qualification will be of great help to you in carving out your careers.

Since becoming President in 2014, I have advocated for the WINDOW Concept, which envisions Kyoto University as a window to society and the world. Of the three roles generally expected of all universities -- education, research, and public service -- we have made education the shared mission of Kyoto University as a whole and have implemented a number of initiatives aimed at helping talented students and young researchers develop their abilities and identify opportunities to give full rein to their potential. The first "W" in WINDOW stands for Wild and Wise, and signifies our commitment to fostering both wisdom and an adventurous spirit in our students. The letter "I" stands for International and Innovative, meaning that we want you to be able to make your own decisions and act independently, while communicating unique ideas on the global stage. "N" for Natural and Noble, "D" for Diverse and Dynamic, "O" for Original and Optimistic and, finally, "W" for Women, leaders in the Workplace.

I hope that you will all become shining examples of these qualities in the world that you are about to enter. The WINDOW Concept also advocates for development of a society of hope by supporting women's career success, and it includes Action Plans for the Promotion of Gender Equality. There are 46 women among those receiving degrees today, and I am confident that this number will continue to grow with each passing year. I look forward to you utilizing your experiences and abilities to pursue careers that support the realization of a society in which men and women can enjoy working together without discrimination.

Looking through the dissertations of today's graduates, I noted that, as would be expected of Kyoto University, many profoundly describe basic research across a wide variety of fields focusing on universal phenomena. It is noteworthy that there are also quite a few studies related to recent developments around the world. Examples include the development of international law to meet the demands of globalization; tourism strategies in cross-cultural encounters; aging society and a declining birthrate; information technologies; responses to global climate change, disasters and drastic social changes; and new therapies for various medical conditions, including mental disorders. Although most of these topics lie outside my field of specialization and are beyond my capacity for understanding, I would like to mention just a few that caught my interest.

In a thesis entitled "The Defense of Necessity in International Law", Mr Takuhei Yamada of the Graduate School of Law analyzed the need for and functions of the "defense of necessity" in the international community, relating to situations that cannot be premised on compulsory judicial process. Analyzing how the "defense of necessity" has worked in national emergencies, he suggests needs for more precise and clearer norms, for reviewing the legal system concerning state responsibility, and for developing individual rules on the defense of necessity in order to bring about practical effects in respect of current situations.

In the thesis "Discourses of Japan in Anglophone Tourist Guidebooks: Transformations and Continuities Since the End of the 19th Century", Mr Daniel Jerome Milne of the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies analyzes how Japan has been represented in Anglophone tourist guidebooks published in Japan, Britain, the United States, and Australia over the period between the late 19th century and the 21st century. According to his thesis, in Anglophone areas, development of tourism was first strongly associated with the growth of colonialism and trends in international politics, and Western views of Japan drawn from Orientalism; but that this situation changed over time with popularization of tourism and Japan's growth into a recognized military and political power. Later, through tourist discourses in the post-war period, Japan was framed more as a feminine population, and today, as a blend of hyper-modern and traditional, which draws either consciously or unconsciously on various Orientalist discourses, he argues.

In a thesis on "Approaches to the management of housing suitable for elderly group living", Ms Junko Miyano of the Graduate School of Engineering examined factors for enabling group living in the context of an ever-shrinking proportion of the population having social bonds such as parent-child or marital relations, through various case analyses. As findings useful for future management of group living, she stresses the importance of (1) creating opportunities for communication rather than expecting autonomous resident initiative; (2) mixing up different generations of elderly persons; (3) creating a framework aimed at long-term living; and (4) maintaining a third-party perspective.

A study entitled "Cryptographic Protocols for Secure Electronic Commerce" by Mr Takuho Mitsunaga of the Graduate School of Informatics explores how we can realize secure electronic commerce based on cryptography from different aspects amid the increasingly serious risk of harm from cyber-attacks. He proposes efficient secure protocols for on-line auctions, a punishment strategy imposing penalties on dishonest users, and a secure authentication method using a function called Web Storage to solve security problems which could occur when electronic commerce is implemented on the system.

The thesis "Study on the effects of Felis silvestris catus as an invasive alien species on endangered endemic mammals on Amami-Oshima and measures for the conservation of endangered species" by Ms Kazumi Shionosaki of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies is an attempt to combine ecological studies of feral cats and a sociological approach to obtaining residents' opinions and views on the animals in order to identify current situations and explore countermeasures. What she tells us is shocking -- the cats feed primarily on endangered mammals such as Amami rabbits (Pentalagus furnessi), Amami spiny rats (Tokudaia osimensis), and black rats (Rattus rattus); the more than 800 individual feral cats inhabiting the forest area are likely to prey on some 10,000 Amami rabbits every year. She points out that the "feeding ban" stipulated by the ordinance on proper pet cat feeding has increased dependence by feral cats on wildlife as food resources, and she proposes raising residents' awareness as well as revising the ordinance as possible solutions.

All of these works offer fresh insights into ongoing issues, along with possible solutions. I am sure that they will serve as important guideposts to the future. There are many other outstanding studies -- some with such enticing titles that I very much wanted to read on and learn about the research described. The diversity of fields covered impressed me. I firmly believe that such diversity, creativity, and vision will lead to world-changing concepts and innovations.

Kyoto University is world-renowned as a research university; the number of international awards won by current and past faculty members, including nine Nobel Prizes and two Fields Medals, is testimony to that standing, and is something in which Kyoto University takes great pride. The university also has another proud record in its research history. In July this year, I was in Nairobi, capital of the Republic of Kenya, where the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science maintains a liaison office. The purpose of my visit was to attend a symposium being held by the Nairobi office to commemorate its 50th anniversary this year. I personally worked in the office from 1980 through 1982 and, for many years, Kyoto University has sent a number of researchers to be residents there. It occurred to us that we could use this opportunity to establish a Kyoto University Alumni Association in Africa, so we sent invitations to a large number of people from different parts of the continent who had studied at Kyoto University. Many former students participated in the occasion and enjoyed talking about their study and research at Kyoto University. One thing that greatly impressed me was that everyone talked about how hard they had to work to identify their own research themes, make their discoveries, and finalize these as new theories, and about the many valuable friends they acquired in the process.

In the outskirts of Nairobi there is a university called Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Named after the then President of Kenya, this institution was founded in 1978 with the aim of strengthening national capabilities in science and technology with the assistance of JICA. According to a book published recently by International Development Journal, "The Samurai who Built a University in Africa", Kyoto University provided comprehensive support to establish the university, sending a number of researchers and faculty to work there. It was also in 1978 that I first traveled to Africa, spending a few days in Nairobi on the way to and from my destination. At that time, I was unaware that a number of researchers from my university were taking on the major challenge of founding a university there.

Over 20 years later, in 2000, the university project was formally handed over by JICA to the Kenyan government. Dr Hiroji Nakagawa had been involved in the project since its inception. At that time, he was a professor in the Civil Engineering Department of the Faculty of Engineering and he played a leading role throughout the project, from the draft proposal through completion of the university. In a special lecture to mark his retirement, Dr Nakagawa stated: "Apart from the string of Nobel Prize awardees, Kyoto University has another tradition," namely a tradition of researchers voluntarily going out to distant frontiers and dedicating their careers to tackling challenges faced by people around the world.

Kyoto University has produced many such internationally active researchers who have worked to address difficult challenges in various regions, including, for example, Dr Matsuki Miyazaki, who founded the National JALMA Institute for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases in India. And, many of those endeavors, drawing on the unique spirit cultivated at Kyoto University, have yielded invaluable results.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology provides one example. In Kenya, around the same time, students at engineering and agricultural specialist training schools had to take state examinations in order to gain qualifications in their respective fields. Passing the exams was the objective of the many schools that competed with each other to achieve higher success rates. Against this background, Dr Nakagawa and his colleagues began to place emphasis on fundamental courses in such subjects as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, holding that the conventional curricula could not develop students' ability to think. This provoked opposition among Kenyan government education officials for "deviating from the syllabus" and frustration among students who thought they would fail the state examinations if they followed that path. Nevertheless, Dr Nakagawa and his colleagues uncompromisingly stuck to their fundamental education approach until it finally transpired that students' ability to think began to improve. Not only did their success rates increase, but this approach also encouraged them to become more innovative.

Thanks to these achievements, in 1994 the school was upgraded to a fully independent university with doctoral programs. I have recently learned that the university has become a generator of numerous leading projects in agriculture and engineering in Kenya, and a producer of many entrepreneurs. There is no doubt in my mind that the spirit of Kyoto University helped create an educational and research institution that today is at the forefront of one African nation's growth and development. This is a source of great pride for members of the Kyoto University community, and will certainly stand as a guidepost for today's new doctoral graduates.

Your dissertations are invaluable gifts to posterity -- beacons for anyone following in your footsteps. I hope that each of you will draw on the pride and experience that you have acquired and developed through your time as a researcher here at Kyoto University, and that you will all have brilliant careers.

In conclusion, let me once again offer my sincere congratulations to each and every one of you.