December 16, 2021
Professor Kohei Itoh
President, Keio University
We now find ourselves in the final stretch of the year for 2021. With around six months having passed since I was inaugurated as president, I have spent a large part of that time and devoted considerable energy to dialogues both with universities in Japan and those overseas.
The healthy rivalries among universities, driving them to up their respective efforts and achieve progress, are important. However, this engine only runs when a sufficiently high level has already been attained. Petty competition on domestic fronts holds little meaning in the context of universities in other parts of the world attempting to put a distance between themselves and the competition using vast financial resources collected through donations and fund management. Rather, Japanese universities must skillfully pool their resources and coordinate their efforts to allow them to collaborate and hold their own on the world stage. This is the mindset I hope to apply in facilitating an environment conducive to both mutual cooperation and mutual benefit with our fellow Japanese universities, starting with the Waseda-Keio alliance. In this regard, allow me to begin by introducing recent exchange with our "best friends and truest rivals," Waseda University.
The first port of call for the Keio University leadership following our inauguration on May 28 of this year involved a visit to our corresponding officers at Waseda University. The "Waseda-Keio alliance" was my keyword going into this meeting. At the same time, this visit was informed by my awareness that Waseda was exemplary among Japanese universities when it came to dealing with COVID-19 after it first appeared at the beginning of 2020, and the hope that they might share the secrets of this success. At the meeting, our counterparts from Waseda University led by President Aiji Tanaka instructed us in the details of their COVID-19 response. This advice then informed our subsequent project to vaccinate 50,000 persons at Keio University. Moving forward, there were a variety of Waseda-Keio exchanges, coordinating initiatives in fields such as diversity & inclusion, and participating in activities under the Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges (JAPUC). We also accepted an invitation at the end of November to visit the Waseda International House of Literature (the Haruki Murakami Library) and participate in an open discussion among the leadership at the respective universities, approximately two months after the library had opened. Even as President Tanaka and I share a similar understanding of the importance of partnership development, I will endeavor from now to expand on our partnerships to include many more universities in addition to the relationships enjoyed with Waseda.
On the other hand, I remain determined to top the field in sports and other areas encompassed by the famous "Waseda-Keio rivalry." Indeed, both President Tanaka and I were among those making a beeline for the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium to spectate at the Waseda-Keio rugby match on November 23. Popular opinion in the run up to the game favored a definitive victory for Waseda and, in fact, they had a commanding lead of 35–5 by the end of the first half. Nevertheless, Keio rallied in the second half to steal a try from a succession of line-out mauls, scoring a 28–5 landslide, if the second half were to be taken in isolation. Alas, while this certainly made for an excellent game, in which both sides fought tooth and nail to the end, it meant a final result of a 40–33 victory to Waseda, a goal difference of one converted try.
There was a special feature on the following day's morning news about Waseda rugby club's preparations for the Waseda-Keio game. Waseda-Keio games are always a special affair, however rife speculations of a Waseda victory may be. I couldn't suppress a bellow of "This is what a friendly rivalry should be!" at the sight of the Waseda team loudly proclaiming their determination to win, and scenes of them repeatedly piling in to tackle machines kitted out with tiger jerseys (the Keio uniform). The Waseda-Keio rivalry is indeed exceptional. For those interested in seeing results of Waseda-Keio games by the various Athletic Association teams, they have been updated on the Athletic Association's website (Japanese language only).
In other news, the Mita Festival, which was being held in the flesh for the first time in two years, also proved an extremely lively affair. I too took the opportunity to make the rounds of the festival and enjoy the students' work through the Federation of Cultural Clubs (Japanese language only), as well as research seminar presentations. I felt this was a wonderful example of what campus life is all about.
For those interested, Keio University is always hosting a variety of events. More details can be found at Events on the top page of the Keio University website, and I encourage you all to take advantage of the appealing and worthy upcoming lineup of Keio events.
Finally, allow me to express, on behalf of Keio University, my sincere thanks for the kindness and support you have shown us over the past year. I hope that you will continue to lend us this support in the year to come. Please take good care of yourselves and have a wonderful New Year.