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AY 2021 September Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony Address

September 17, 2021

Professor Kohei Itoh
President, Keio University

To all of you who are graduating today, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations. The culmination of your studies and research has led you to today’s graduation. I would also like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the family members and guardians who have offered their support and helped you arrive at this important milestone.

(At first, let me introduce my colleagues on the stage, who have helped you come this far. On the right, Professor Colin McKenzie of Faculty of Economics, who will be delivering a congratulatory speech representing all the faculty members and staff of Keio.)

I believe that your experience at Keio University will serve as a starting point of a virtuous cycle in your life, in other words, setting you on a continuous spiral of growth and improvement. You have reached this day after studying and conducting research with some of the best faculty and staff in the world, whom I believe are this institution’s greatest assets. Many Keio alumni say that when they go out into the world, they reaffirm the value of their education at Keio. I am confident that you will do well among the best and the brightest in the world, continuing to advance the methodology of learning and research that you have established here at Keio, and taking on important positions as leaders of the global society. The alumni networks of Keio and other universities have often converged to contribute to the advancement of global academia and businesses. Throughout your lives, you will demonstrate the Keio spirit of pursuing ideals for the betterment of society and become central figures in the advancement of your own communities, countries, and the world.

For the past year and a half, COVID-19 has severely limited your learning and research. I understand that many of you were unable to access the learning and research environment you had envisioned. We recognize how challenging it was for many of you to be in a situation where you were no longer free to spend time with friends and classmates. Over 20% of today's graduates are international students, and this is why I am delivering this message in English, because there has never been a more difficult time for you. Once you leave Japan, reentry has been made difficult, and due to the recent spike in COVID cases in Tokyo, some students have returned to their home countries and are participating in today's commencement online. But our experience with COVID has proven to us that we have the means to remain connected.

As I said earlier, you will serve as leaders of our society, so it is our hope to stay connected and to deepen constructive relationships with you as you each begin active careers around the world. As the pace of social change will continue to accelerate, we will need you to update us on the world situation, to help advance education and research at Keio University. Please remain connected with Keio by subscribing to Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram of Keio University Global in English and/or in Japanese. The keio.jp email address given to you will remain valid after graduation. Therefore, I would like to ask that you please keep checking your account so that you can read e-mails sent to your keio.jp address. We will continue to send you updates from Keio.

For those of you who are looking to become researchers and will go on to attend graduate school, you will be digging deep into your fields of expertise. To push the frontiers of academia, you will need to be at the forefront of research, collaborating and sometimes competing with experts from around the world. There is a phrase in Japanese of one being so immersed in something as to "forget to eat and sleep”. Every first-class researcher goes through a process of ultimate concentration and continuous thinking about a single research project. New ideas and results obtained through this process will advance academia and take the world's knowledge to the next level. If I could give you one piece of advice, what you choose as a research topic should not only be based on your own curiosity and abilities, but I urge you to work on a topic that will have great impact on the advancement of knowledge.

Many of you who are graduating today will serve as leaders for the betterment of the global community. Now, try to imagine where you will be 50 years from now. Fifty years may seem far off in the distant future, but if we are able to preserve world peace and protect our environment, most of you will be alive and well. The kind of society you will be living in will depend on how you shape it going forward, a reflection of your day-to-day efforts and actions. I hope that 50 years from now, we can be proud to say that the society we have helped to create, has allowed us, our children and grandchildren to live happy, comfortable lives, and that human dignity and basic human rights will be protected in every corner of the world. Around the world today, many young people of your generation have grown up experiencing economic instability, political disorder, environmental challenges, racial and gender inequalities, as well as this pandemic. In some regions, they have suffered war and hunger. We must strive to preserve human rights and peace. So as you contemplate on what to accomplish in the future, in doing so, I hope you will follow the same principle that I suggested earlier in choosing a research topic, that you should take on challenges that must be pursued for the betterment of the global society.

The future of the world and this planet depend on you. Please make your contribution to making a good society. I hope that you will be able to demonstrate your Keio spirit to the fullest.

Congratulations and good luck.

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