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Introduction to Osaka University

President Hirano's speech at the opening ceremony for the 52nd Seven Universities Meet

Welcome to Osaka! I'm Toshio Hirano, the President of Osaka University. On the behalf of Osaka University, I'd like to welcome to you to the 52nd Seven Universities Meet!

Before I go further, please permit me to express my appreciation to all of you for your support in holding this Meet and to the Gakushikai for their continued encouragement and support.

Officially founded in 1931, you may be interested to learn that Osaka University's roots reach back to 1838 and Tekijuku, a private "place of learning" founded by OGATA Koan in 1838. Tekijuku produced many people who contributed to the foundation of a modern Japan. Among them were FUKUZAWA Yukichi, OMURA Masujiro, NAGAYO Sensai, and SANO Tsunetami.

This year is the 175th anniversary of Tekijuku's founding. We're very glad to welcome you from locations all around Japan on this memorable 175th year.

As you know, the first Seven Universities Meet was held in Hokkaido in 1962. This year's meet is the 52nd. Osaka University served as a host for the first time at the 4th Seven Universities Meet in 1965. This year is our 8th time to be the host.

During the past 52 years, Japan has changed greatly in many ways -- social structure, economy, culture, science and technology, and the sense of value. Due to the unprecedented Great East Earthquake and the following accidents at the nuclear power plants, the world economic crisis as well as political instability, Japan and the world face turbulent times. However, even in this setting, the mission and responsibility of national universities to produce future personnel never changes. A university is a center for research and education and the source of a bright future. Universities are like a fountain from which we turn out infinite possibilities for the future. Each of you has the potential to accomplish the impossible, to be an infinite possibility.

I heard that the enthusiasm of student volunteers, students who stepped forward and established a new sports tradition, gave birth to the Seven Universities Meet. Although our predecessors competed for the honor of their schools, after the games, they praised each other's performances and deepened their friendships. We applaud wonderful plays in sports because we are moved by the athletes' performance, the skills they developed through daily practice. But that's not all. We're impressed with and excited by their determination, their power to make the impossible possible, their perseverance in achieving their dreams.

We cannot be filled with a feeling of accomplishment without having gone through difficulties in achieving our goal. Sports, learning, and life all have this aspect in common.

Last year, we saw the fundamental strength of Japanese people in athletes at the Olympic Games and in the winner of the Nobel Prize.

I hope all of you will compete with all your might, that there will be no accidents, and that you will take home unforgettable memories from this meet. If every one of you makes untiring efforts not only here in sports, but also in your learning and, later, in your lives -- that will be a most wonderful dream come true!

A year ago, I participated in the opening ceremony for the Seven Universities Meet in Kyushu. Since then you have grown up and become much stronger. I'm glad to see familiar faces. I'm very proud of you.

Finally, I'd like to close with the wish that the prestigious Seven Universities Meet will continue to shine through its 100th anniversary and beyond.

July 6, 2013

HIRANO Toshio
President of Osaka University

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