Master’s, professional, and doctoral degree presentation ceremony: Farewell address

University News | March 24, 2022

President Kiyohiro Houkin giving farewell address.

On behalf of Hokkaido University, I would sincerely like to congratulate all of you upon achieving your master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees today. I would also like to extend my congratulations and gratitude to your families, guardians, mentors, and all other people who have provided for you, supported you, and encouraged you to this day.

Today, we are proud to award 1,559 master’s degrees, 65 professional degrees, and 351 doctoral degrees. Each of you has devoted yourself to your study and research, gained expert knowledge, and achieved research excellence in your area of expertise.

I would also like to add that, of these, 274 master’s degrees, 11 professional degrees, and 96 doctoral degrees were awarded to international students.

You have persevered in an unfamiliar environment where you study in English and live your daily life in Japanese. Your efforts and academic achievements are highly commendable and deserve the utmost respect.

Looking back, I believe that the last few years that you have studied at the University have been extremely challenging. Many events took place, yet two must be noted in particular.

First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic which began at the end of 2019 and reached around the globe has changed our world completely. The end of the pandemic is not in sight even today, and we are still in a dark tunnel. It must have been very difficult for all of you that this pandemic happened during the period of time that was so crucial for earning your degree.

In research, in-person interactions have been restricted, and social distancing is mandated in collaborative work with your supervisor or data collection in experiments with your fellow students. Even interacting with your friends and teachers outside of the classroom had to be strictly limited. In addition, many of you may have been in financial distress. I have the deepest respect for your dedication through this trying time which led to the achievement of your degree today.

This coronavirus pandemic has led to the acceleration of digital transformation, and the new normal in our everyday life has already been well established. There is no doubt that the pandemic is bringing about fundamental, profound changes to society.

You are the generation that will lead us in efforts to build the society that comes next. It is a huge responsibility for sure, but it is also an incredible opportunity for you to collectively leverage your strengths. Please become the driving force in this time of great change.

The other incident has occurred on February 24th, just as your graduation was approaching. In Ukraine, a military invasion has been launched against the country and peaceful lives were suddenly destroyed. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, we have always had war in Asia, the Middle East, and other places around the world. We must not forget this. The current warfare in Ukraine is extremely large scale and has caused widespread and deep insecurity about peace and prosperity in the world.

I myself cannot look at this situation calmly. Where is the world headed in the future? I am greatly concerned about the uncertainty and instability of world affairs. What is clear now is that we are standing at the beginning of incredibly difficult times. At Hokkaido University, we do not educate people about hurting each other, nor do we conduct such research. You too, in retrospect, have not received such education, nor have you done such research.

You are the generation that will play a key role in creating the future society amidst this uncertain and unstable global climate. We pledge to do our best. I hope that all of you will fully leverage the strengths you have cultivated at Hokkaido University and become leaders in bringing peace and prosperity to this time of change. Although it seems we have little power for achieving world peace and prosperity, but we are not, by any means, powerless. Let us believe that we can be a force for change in the world.

Very soon we will be celebrating a major milestone of the University, our 150th anniversary. Of all the inspiring words left by our forerunners over the past 150 years, I think the slogan that has become part of our soul at Hokkaido University is this empowering phrase by Dr. Clark, “Be ambitious.”

I interpret these words as a mission to bring the education, research, and talent we have nurtured in our home, of Hokkaido to the world. I would like to express this idea in my own words, “Light comes from the north, and from the north to throughout the world.” The Light is young talented people like you, and the research that comes from your minds. The north means not only Hokkaido University but also the natural environment of Hokkaido which can be very cold and severe. As we experience this challenging time including this pandemic, I wholeheartedly hope more than ever that you will radiate the light of innovations to guide the new society.

Your world-class research capabilities and expert skills are the best resources and the root of the strength of Japan. Lately, there is a concern that the country is losing ground in scientific research and intellectual creativity. We must pull through this grave situation. All of us at the University are ready to dedicate ourselves to advancing our academic and scientific knowledge with you who have now become the newest part of this excellent academic community. I have high hopes for your contribution.

One of Hokkaido University’s new principles is “strong partnerships with society.” We aspire to build close relationships with various organizations and individuals in the wider society and become an epicenter for social change. I hope you are proud of yourself for having achieved your degree here and becoming part of our alumni network now. Please take advantage of these powerful relationships which may last a lifetime.

Lastly, as the President of Hokkaido University, I am sending my very best wishes to all of you who are starting a new chapter in your life. I will be always cheering you on from afar.

Best of luck in your future endeavors. And keep making us proud.

Once again, congratulations.

The farewell address in Japanese:

The farewell address for the bachelor’s degree’s graduates can be found at the following link (in Japanese):