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AY 2022 Undergraduate Entrance Ceremony Address

April 1, 2022

Professor Kohei Itoh
President, Keio University

Welcome to all of you, the new students of Keio University. My warm wishes too to your family members.

First, allow me to read some words on the "Mission of Keio University" as articulated by our founder, Yukichi Fukuzawa.

"Keio Gijuku is not merely a place for academic pursuit. Its mission is to be a constant source of honorable character and a paragon of intellect and morals for the entire nation and for each member to apply this spirit to elucidate the essence of family, society, and nation. They will not only articulate this essence in words, but also demonstrate it in their actions, and by so doing make Keio a leader of society."

While I imagine that you each have various reasons for choosing to study at Keio University. I think that it is safe to assume that all new students will share in the objectives outlined in the "Mission of Keio University" which I have just introduced. Each of you will, from this point on, diligently apply yourselves to your studies, pour your heart into extracurricular activities, and meet lifelong friends here, fueled by this mission to achieve excellence as sources of honorable character and paragons of intellect and morals so that you may lead society, and the wider world, in the right direction.

The "Gijuku" of Keio Gijuku is a translation of the British model of the "public school." This school is precisely that, a place where students with high aspirations for furthering and developing the public sphere converge. Maintaining such high aspirations, and persisting in the pursuit of ideals, is no easy matter. However, you have no reason to worry. Your university life will be spent surrounded by wonderful peers, with each of you helping the other out, and pushing each other to ever greater achievements. However, for this to happen, it will be imperative that you stand on your own two feet, with each of you, as individuals, responsible for valuing and upholding your own aspirations and principles. This is the Keio spirit of independence and self-respect; it will be a staunch ally in maintaining your personal integrity, and ensuring that you aspire and commit yourself to ever greater heights.

This ethos is also precisely why you will esteem the dignity of your fellow students and strive alongside them to further society. A true family is one in which each individual is distinct, yet acknowledges the value of other members. This also holds true for local communities, countries, and the globe. Recognizing distinctions yet working together is directly tied to making society and the world a better place. The Keio University philosophy, whereby each of you here today seeks to become leaders that will shape our future world is also part of our endeavor to embody the tenets of democracy.

You will be safe in assuming that, just as I have called on each of you to pursue your ideals, the faculty members who will oversee your classes and education at this university will to a person be those at the very pinnacle of their respective disciplines. They too are following their callings through research and education. Lecturers in charge of introductory English courses for first year students, for example, will comprise recognized authorities in various fields, from world history and political science, to art. Please make a point of showering them with questions during class to help reveal their individual charms and hidden depths.

It is also important that you acquire an international sensibility. At the Keio Research Center for Foreign Language Education, you can learn various languages not readily available for study at other undergraduate faculties, such as Arabic and Indonesian, in addition to studying English to an extremely advanced level. First year students, who embark in earnest on their studies of English or another language from day one, will greatly improve their chances of being selected as overseas exchange students at one of the over 140 universities worldwide with which Keio has partnership agreements. On your journey to becoming society's leaders, you must first experience what the world has to offer. Thus, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of Keio's study abroad system.

Cultivating a sturdy constitution through exercise is also important as you pursue your goals. Keio University boasts world-class athletics grounds, pools, gymnasia, and tennis courts, where an array of physical education classes take place. Hiyoshi Campus being chosen as their base by the British national teams at last year's Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games is surely ample testament to the excellence of the training facilities at Keio University. Of course, these facilities are accessible outside of physical education classes, including for practices by, or events involving, the Athletic Association clubs officially representing Keio University. Joining a club and putting your all into training will allow each of you to actively experience how it feels to make a reality of what you had previously believed impossible. You will also equip yourself with the spirit of fair play, while gaining lifelong friends. Keio University's pride in its Athletic Association is matched by its appreciation for its various clubs for music, and cultural, artistic, and intramural sports. Many of the performance you will see today also involve just some of the cultural clubs to which Keio University is proudly home. While pursuing ideals in your academic life goes without saying, I ask that you extend this pursuit to your extracurricular activities.

Now then, I would like to address why I am asking you to do something as obvious as "pursuing your goals"? This is because of my own sense that doing so has become increasingly difficult in this age awash with information. For example, I think that there are those among you who found yourselves preoccupied comparing scores and rankings when you were choosing which university to attend. Likewise, there may be some who will be concerned about reputation and employer rankings in your future job search. However, at Keio University even if information such as rankings is on our radar, we do not deviate from our course or allow these to dictate our decisions. This is because such framing devices encourage "divisions" which indiscriminately separate universities into "winners" and "losers," and this does not tally with our mission at Keio University to "create an ideal world." A moment ago, I mentioned that we have over 140 partner institutions for student exchange. However, we did not choose these partners on the basis of university rankings. They are institutions with which we have a long-standing relationship of trust, and which are suitable to support you as you pursue your goals. Indeed, a long gestation period is required to bring the various strands involved in the pursuit of ideals to fruition.

In recent times, much is being made in our society about becoming a "strong leaders." However, leaders who use personal pronouns to lay claim to accomplishments by saying "I did such and such" are, I believe, a little different to the leadership we aspire to here at Keio University. As I previously mentioned, each and every one of you who are here today will be leaders. It matters not exactly how you seek to do this, as the variety in your achievements, ideals, and goals, itself represents diversity. What can be said though is that this process will require you to undertake activities together while maintaining steadfast bonds to each other. You will never reach your destination if you set out on your journey in the pursuit of ideals alone. Rather, this will be undertaken while connecting with each other, sharing time together, and lending a helping hand to those who are faltering. In class and during extracurricular activities, interact either individually or in a larger community, and forsake the temptation to boast. Come together with your peers and communicate, saying, "I think" not "I did" as you work in tandem to achieve your goals.

At this ceremony today, we are joined in celebration by some of those who embarked on this journey 50 years ago. While these travelers have more experience under their belts than you, they too pursued their ideals during their student days at Keio University, have done so in the 50 years which have passed since then, and will continue to do so into the future. Why not take this opportunity to vow together in front of these alumni to follow the Keio tradition and pursue ideals as leaders.

We at Keio University look forward to seeing each of you enjoy the full riches of your youth. However, the one thing which we cannot tolerate from our students is behavior which infringes on the dignity of others. The standards of virtue Keio University upholds are extremely high, and should you engage in behaviors which hurt others, the punishments for being in violation of this are likewise extremely strict, regardless of whether these constitute legal redress. Endeavor not to infringe on the public good and serve as a model citizen while enjoying your freedom.

Finally, here is a hint to remind you of the content of my speech today and help you renew your determination to follow your ideals. At the conclusion of this entrance ceremony there will be a rendition of the "Juku-ka," the Keio University alma mater. While all three verses are wonderful, the line which starts the second verse "walking in the trail of those who passed before" is a particularly powerful rallying cry for the pursuit of ideals. One passage of this verse, "Taking up the torch, the burning light of wisdom, to light our righteous journey" never fails to send a shiver up my spine. To pursue ideals, we leaders must continue to kindle this fire in our hearts. All of you will sing the "Juku-ka" many times both when you are at Keio and after you have graduated. When you sing this second verse, please recall today's entrance ceremony and your feelings of resolve on this day.

Allow me to wish you, the new students of Keio University, who have gathered on the Hill of Hiyoshi, my sincerest congratulations on the start of your journey together as leaders.

Congratulations to you all.

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