Congratulations on your entrance to Keio University. We warmly welcome you all to the Keio community.
As previously announced, Keio University made the difficult decision to cancel the spring undergraduate and graduate entrance ceremonies in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are instead considering inviting all of you who joined in the spring to attend the fall entrance ceremonies.
I have no doubt that you and your families were very much looking forward to getting together and celebrating this joyous occasion. In addition, the members of the 1970 Mita-kai (class of 1970 alumni association) who are marking 50 years since their graduation this year, spent the last year working on commemorative projects to mark this special day to welcome our new students.
Moreover, the reconstruction of the Hiyoshi Commemorative Hall was completed this year and a lavish entrance ceremony was scheduled to be held there as the first official event of the new academic year. Consequently, we at Keio are deeply disappointed.
At present, in the midst of fearing the explosive spread of COVID-19, the academic calendar has also been changed and I am sure that you are all at a loss. I would imagine that for many of you who came to Tokyo from other parts of Japan or overseas in particular, you may be facing tough times and be dealing with uneasy feelings as you are still getting used to your new life away from home. In preparation for the start of the new semester, at Keio University, the faculty and staff members have come together as one and are putting various measures in place, centered around the undergraduate faculties and graduate schools, to create an environment where you and all of our students can devote yourselves to your studies with peace of mind.
However, the crisis is still escalating by the minute. In a cruel twist of fate, in an Olympic and Paralympic year, COVID-19 has spread across all five continents represented by the five rings on the Olympic flag, and the world is continuing to face an uphill battle against this virus. In Japan too, where we were looking forward to hosting the Games in our capital, the government and local governments have implemented various measures, but as an effective course of treatment has not yet been found, what is still to come is highly unpredictable.
Consequently, what is required to prevent the spread of infection is awareness by and the sound and level-headed actions of each and every member of society. Don't be misled by unreliable information and panic. Rather, determine which information is accurate and act appropriately. This translates to the learning methodology of identifying the true nature of the issue and bringing about a solution. As individuals pursuing learning, I hope you will all overcome the turmoil and have the courage to do what needs to be done.
At the entrance ceremony held in April 1946 on a Mita Campus covered with piles of rubble in the aftermath of war, Seiichiro Takahashi, the then acting president of Keio, gave an address in place of the president, Shinzo Koizumi, who at the time was ill and recuperating from injuries sustained during the war. Takahashi was a student of Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio, who held a post as a professor at the Faculty of Economics and later served as the minister of education of Japan.
"I imagine you all have the impression that Keio University is a very cold and unwelcoming place" began Takahashi.
"Even for matters of great importance such as learning whether or not you have met the requirements to advance to the next year level or graduate, you will only be notified by a single post on a bulletin board on campus. Unlike at your schools until now, you cannot expect your instructors or administrative staff to directly contact you by phone or another means. You alone must make the effort to visit the bulletin board and not miss a post. By doing this for six years,* you will learn from experience the meaning of independence and self-respect, and develop this founding spirit of Keio that Yukichi Fukuzawa talked about."
And with these words alone, Takahashi brought his address to a close.
Kojiro Nakayama was a Keio student who heard this speech first-hand. He later became a professor at the Faculty of Letters. Looking back on that time, Nakayama once recalled, " 'Cold and unwelcoming place.' It has a harsh ring, yet isn't there something refreshing about it that fills us full of confidence? To me, this meant that I am being treated as a mature individual, a gentleman, and since hearing these words, I always felt great pride and joy in being able to learn at Keio University."
Countless moons have come and gone since the founding of Keio, numerous trips around the sun have been made, and the times have changed. Yet, Keio University's educational philosophy remains unchanged. During his life, Yukichi Fukuzawa worried about people being unduly compliant, unquestioningly following instructions and orders from above and not taking initiative on their own — remnants of the feudal system. Thus, he set about to foster citizens who pursue knowledge on their own, are not influenced by the current trends of the world, and possess a spirit of independence and self-respect, empowering them to act independently.
It is also a measure of a nation's maturity if its citizens can think and act on their own accord while taking responsibility for their actions rather than waiting to mindlessly follow instructions and orders from others.
Since its establishment in 1858, Keio University has overcome many hurdles as a private institution of learning through the cooperation of benefactors who share in its philosophy, and has evolved into one of Japan's leading comprehensive universities. Whenever the university faces a crisis, the overwhelming support we receive through the power of shachu kyoryoku (the entire Keio community coming together and collaborating), fueled by our students, alumni, and faculty and staff members, enables us to prevail.
All of you have today become part of the Keio community, which prizes the spirit of independence and self-respect as well as the spirit of shachu kyoryoku. I hope that you will all experience a rich student life, devoting yourselves to your studies while also enjoying a variety of social activities including sports and the arts, in the free and benevolent atmosphere of Keio University.
Congratulations to you all again on your admission to Keio.
Professor Akira Haseyama
* Preparatory and regular courses under the old educational system