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President's Message

Contributing to Society Through the Pursuit of Learning

President, Keio University, Professor Atsushi Seike
Professor Atsushi Seike
President, Keio University

Keio University was founded in 1858 by Yukichi Fukuzawa. Born in feudal Japan, Fukuzawa founded Keio in the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and became one of the key intellectuals to lead Japan’s modernization during the Meiji period. The dramatic changes brought about by the Meiji Restoration had such a significant impact on the lives of Fukuzawa and others of his generation that he wrote: “We have lived two lives, as it were; we unite in ourselves two completely different patterns of experience” (An Outline of a Theory of Civilization).

We, too, are living in a time of great changes. If we look at the demography, for example, the structure of the population, the very foundation of our society, is changing. When this year’s graduates were born, the ratio of older people over 65 years of age had only just exceeded one in every ten people. However, today, almost one in every four people is an older person. When this year’s graduates are in their forties, in the middle of their careers, this ratio will be one in three, and when they become elderly themselves, in the middle of this century, it will be two in every five. The age distribution is shifting so dramatically that population pyramids are being turned upside down; such is the extent of the changes that we are now facing.

In times of major transition, we should not consider things as if they are simply extensions of past events. It is important to understand a new situation for oneself and use that understanding to form a solution. This means identifying a relevant problem, formulating a hypothesis to explain the problem, and objectively observing the hypothesis to reach a conclusion which can then be applied to the solution of the problem. This process is nothing but the academic way of thinking.

Yukichi Fukuzawa valued learning above all else and emphasized its particular importance in times of great change. The greater the change, the more important learning becomes. Based on our founder's principles of learning, Keio University will continue to contribute to the progress of society: by educating individuals who learn to think for themselves; by pursuing learning to gain new wisdom for the benefit of society; and by practicing in fields such as medicine which depend on constant learning.