I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thank you for your efforts and support over the last year. The COVID-19 pandemic has yet to subside, and we have now been dealing with it for three years. I am sure that all of you, including graduate students, professors, and administrative staff members, have faced numerous hardships and difficulties. Looking at trends around the world, many places have now lifted most of their restrictions and returned to normal. But what about Japan? My guess is that things will remain as they are for some time to come.
From June to October last year, I had the opportunity to visit the research institutes and museums that constitute SOKENDAI's parent institutions, and speak with all of the directors as well as with professors and students in each department. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone for your cooperation. Since our departments are separated from each other by great distances across Japan, there are bound to be things that cannot be understood from the headquarters in Hayama. I have heard from many of you on various occasions, but by re-visiting all of the departments last year, I was able to gain a new awareness of the current situations at each institution and the concerns that everyone has. Although I will leave the administrative office at the end of March this year, certainly I will pass these results to the next presidential office and ask them to reflect these findings in the future management of SOKENDAI and apply them as a means of further enhancing our research and educational environments.
This April, we will launch a major reorganization. The new structure will consist of 20 educational programs under a single organization - the Graduate Institute for Advanced Studies. This may seem like a big change, but the substance and workings of SOKENDAI will actually not be affected much. However, considering that we will be removing the barrier that has conventionally existed between schools, it will be far easier to move and interact between programs than when they were classified as departments within separate schools. SOKENDAI is made up of research institutes engaged in a truly diverse range of research activities, including everything from the humanities through to physics, life sciences, and the fundamental sciences of statistics, information, and mathematics, as well as engineering research using large-scale equipment. Since these will all form a single set of 20 programs, I encourage you to look through all of them and consider how your research could be expanded through collaboration with elements in other programs. I look forward to the potential new developments within each of you.
Amidst the dark shadow that had already been cast over the world by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in late February last year. This caused fuel and electricity prices to skyrocket and threw the economy into turmoil. The world is now facing a set of increasingly complex and difficult circumstances. As I mentioned last year, when it comes to what we can do to make the world a better place in the future, although the power of a single individual may seem insignificant, it will be nearly impossible to make changes unless each and every one of us possesses the will and intention to enact change. This year, let us all persevere and continue to consider these issues together.
My term as president will expire at the end of March. Although I still have three months to go in my term, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the professors and administrative staff members at all of our parent institutions and to everyone else who has supported the administration of SOKENDAI in various ways. And to all of our graduate students, I wish you a happy and healthy New Year, and hope that you remain able to devote yourselves to your research throughout the coming year.
President, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI