Happy New Year, everyone! I recognize and appreciate all of your hard work over the last year, and I look forward to working with you again this year.
We are now in the second year of the global coronavirus pandemic, which began around the end of 2019 and remains quite tenacious. New viral strains are appearing one after another and will likely continue to do so on into the future. Until some sort of effective cure is available, we won't be able to rest assured. As such, we have made progress in using online conferencing and other technologies to continue working as usual to some extent despite the pandemic. In and of itself, I believe this is a good thing, but it's still not the same as working together with everyone in the same location where we can speak face-to-face, and I fear that much has actually been lost because of this.
The situation seems particularly difficult for graduate students who have to conduct experiments, and who has to do field observations and other tasks. I'm sure that even students who are able to do research only with theories and calculations are also feeling stifled in terms of inspiration and access to new ideas by not being able to gather together for lively discussions. The thought of having to somehow complete a thesis under circumstances like these must be very frustrating. Please continue your research, while consulting with your academic advisors to find the best way forward.
Infectious diseases, climate change, the global political situation, the economy... The world is full of problems. It is important for each and every one of us to carefully consider what kind of world we want in the future and what we need to do to achieve it. It is difficult for a single person to enact sweeping changes. However, change is not possible unless each and every one of us is willing to make it. This is a difficult issue, but I think we should all continue to reflect on it together.
This year, 2022, is the Year of the Tiger. Tigers are large, carnivorous animals that inhabit Asia. There are a number of subspecies, most of which are endangered. For some subspecies, it is estimated that only a few hundred members are left in the wild. As it is the Year of the Tiger, I hope to that the world changes over the course of this year in way that, however slightly, reduces the risk of extinction faced by these tigers. And, let us all work together to usher in a new era and breathe new life into the world to ensure that no dark clouds hang over the future of humanity.
President, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI