November 17, 2021
Professor Kohei Itoh
President, Keio University
Greetings from the Keio University president's office.
With the bite of autumn in the air, Keio students are now happily pursuing their studies on campus and the Mita Festival (Japanese) will also be celebrated "in-the-flesh" from November 20–23.
Meanwhile, this season in Japan is traditionally considered one of "learning," and our Executive Board recently met to consider how Keio University might best confront the challenges of modern society through scholarship, subsequently presenting our thoughts to the Board of Trustees, the Board of Councillors, and Keio faculty members and staff. The fundamental concept of our discussions was about "Pursuing our Ideals as Pioneers of our Future Society and as Responsible Global Citizens." The following are the five supporting pillars of this vision.
Keio's faculty and staff will utilize their collective imagination to align their educational, research and work objectives with these five pillars, and strive to creatively lead our society forward. Keio's faculty, staff, students, alumni and communities will work together to design our future society and devise actions plans to implement these ideas. We will be putting together a variety of programs in line with this strategy, and we can all look forward to the outcomes of these efforts.
Turning to domestic news, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the 48 Keio alumni elected during the House of Representatives election that took place on October 31. On a related note, moving back to September 27, I visited the Keio University Calligraphy Club 100th Anniversary Exhibition. A picture of me looking over the works of Tsuyoshi Inukai was included on TOKYO web (The Tokyo Shimbun, Language: Japanese). Tsuyoshi Inukai entered Keio Gijuku in 1876 and demonstrated his prodigious oratorical skills in 1880 when he participated in a mock parliament (pseudo Diet meeting) in the Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan), as recalled by Eikichi Kamata in the "Inukai Bokudō den" (Professor Bokudo Biographical Committee / ed. Yoshinao Washio). Ten years later, in 1890, the Imperial Diet would be established, demonstrating how Yukichi Fukuzawa and Keio University were pioneers of their time, in striving to create a foundation in our country with faith in a parliamentary system that believed in the power of debate.
With the help of Yukichi Fukuzawa, Inukai continued on in his career to participate in the Rikken Kaishintō political party that Shigenobu Ōkuma established, then joined the first Imperial Diet, and eventually became prime minister. Even in the moments before he was cut down by a bullet during the May 15 Incident, he never stopped believing in the power of open dialogue, with his famous final words: "If we could talk, you would understand." He was a living embodiment of one of Keio's mottos that "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword." It is my hope those elected as Diet members who are Keio alumni will uphold the Keio tradition of giving full reign to the power of debate and that they amply demonstrate their diplomatic prowess founded in oration amidst the current difficult state of international affairs. And, as Yukichi Fukuzawa wrote in An Encouragement of Learning, "this kind of a government if the people are this way," we must, each and every one of us, take responsibility and continue to refine our debating skills to create a better society.
Other Keio highlights can be found below.
Two Keio University projects selected for the Japan Science and Technology Agency's COI-NEXT program:
COI-NEXT is a program that incorporates universities as its primary driving force in formulating ideas for how society should be in the future and conducting wide-sweeping research projects that promote the realization of such a society. The selection this year of two Keio project proposals (one "core" type and one "growth" type program) (Japanese) in the context of the mere 17 projects selected overall is a feat worth celebrating.
For the "core" program, Keio's proposal of "Urban health commons co-creation base: realizing well-being for anyone who reaches out" (project leader: Professor Masaya Nakamura of the School of Medicine) was selected. This involves Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital, Keio University Hospital, and the Keio School of Medicine collating and providing medical data and, through coordination among RIKEN, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology, providing the required platforms to allow patients who have been treated at the hospital to live happy and fulfilling lives even "post-illness." The project will also be instrumental in preventing illness in the public and developing effective rehabilitation strategies by leveraging cutting edge data science and AI technology to identify and communicate medical knowledge. Besides the organizations listed above, there are a variety of corporations and governmental institutions also involved in the project.
Keio's other selected proposal, for the "growth" program, is titled "Co-creation for the digitally driven: a society that actively participates in recycling resources" (project leader: Professor Hiroya Tanaka of the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies). This project incorporates digital platforms, IoT, and 3D software to promote "Erasing the Plastic Wasteland" (reducing volume and promoting resource recovery from plastic waste) in Kamakura City. The project is a pioneering effort to definitively reduce waste in Kamakura, a popular tourist destination, and is primarily coordinated by the Kamakura city government and KAYAC Inc., along with multiple universities and corporations.
Autumn: a Season of Sports and of Culture
Since my last update, Keio University has won many athletic competitions that I have listed below. The Keio University Baseball Club and Junko Baseball Club were victorious in their respective leagues during the 2021 Fall Tokyo Big6 Baseball League, the Keio Tennis Women's and Men's teams won at the All Japan Student Championship Qualifying Tournament (Kanto area), with the Keio Tennis (Women's) club qualifying for the All-Japan Intercollegiate Championship finals. The Women's Water-Skiing Club were triumphant in the All-Japan Student Water Ski Championship, while the Automobile Club won the Kanto region student competition light car 5-hour race (general student division.) Meanwhile athletes from the Canoe Club were victorious at the recent All-Japan Intercollegiate Canoe Student Competition in the Men's Singles 200m and a new member came out on top in the Men's Singles 500m race. Athletes from the Swimming Club took the top honors in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the 97th Intercollegiate Swimming Championship. For more information, refer to the Athletic Association's Website (Japanese.) The cultural clubs have also kept busy with concerts, exhibitions, and other autumnal events.
Conversing with the 26th Keio Medical Prize Awardees
As the President of Keio University, it was my great pleasure to hold extended discussions with the recipients of the 26th Keio Medical Prize: Dr. Osamu Nureki and Dr. Katalin Karikó. Dr. Karikó's research provided the foundation for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, a vaccine that Keio University has since provided to 50,000 people through its workplace vaccination program. As one of the key figures facilitating the return of students and staff to campus, and thus contributing to the revitalization of university life, we are all in her debt. Dr. Karikó expressed during our conversation that even when her research did not move forward as smoothly as she had hoped, or when vaccine development was deemed difficult at academic conferences, scientists from Japan, including those from Keio, always encouraged her to continue in her work.