Osaka Prefecture University

President’s Commencement Address (Extended Summary)

LastUpDate: March 28, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen! Congratulations on your graduation from Osaka Prefecture University. On behalf of the university, it is my great pleasure to give an address to memorialize this event. My address is in three parts. First I will ask if you are surprised when you find something new. Second, I will discuss the metaphor of a car navigation system in regard to your career path. Finally, I would like to encourage you to draw your own original map for a brilliant future.

I’d like to begin with some questions. Are you surprised at the capability of Artificial Intelligence, such as image/voice recognition systems and their decision making capability? Are you surprised at the convenience of smartphones with not only their cameras and microphones but also face detection and voice translation functions? When I was a student, I could imagine none of them. I cannot help being surprised at social progress when I look back across time. Unless you review past human life and culture, you may fail to be surprised at our amazing social progress. Without being surprised, it is difficult to create a future society.

Let me proceed to the second part. As you may know, car navigation systems are very popular today. Once we specify the goal position, the car navigation system will find the best (or shortest) chain of paths on the map as a route from the current position. I think it suggests a human career. Let us associate driving the car with your lifework. Where are you now? Where is your destination as a goal? Are there sub-goals for your final goal? To find the path from your current position to your final goal in your life, do you have a map with a lot of optional paths? What does the map for your future look like? Who can draw paths on the map for your life? Yes, this analogy suggests that the abstract map for your career path should be drawn by yourself.

Thirdly, let us consider the metaphor of a map for our career path. There was an old map on display in Ri-Sho-no-Mori, which is quite different from the current well-known global map. While the size of Osaka and the Korean Peninsula are larger on this old map, Hokkaido is rather small. Most islands between Kyushu and Okinawa are depicted in detail. The rivers in the Asian continent are very clearly drawn while there are few landmarks on mountains. At first, I thought the mapmakers faced a lot of difficulties in drawing an exact map. Then I noticed that they just wanted to know the sea routes and river routes in order to achieve their trading goal between Osaka and Asian cities. Then I realized that precision is not always important for a map but the reason for drawing it should be clear.

Let me bundle the three parts of my address together. Please ask elderly persons to show you old photos which include past human life and culture. Then try to identify the differences between the past and current life. You will surely find something surprising. Then invert the time axis toward the future and imagine what we should have and how we should use them. It may not be easy. I also encourage you to exchange ideas for future assessment with your colleagues. As long as you have a creative mind, you can surprise people. Once you succeed in imagining the future with surprise, please draw an original map which confirms your current position and future destination. It could be an abstract map comprising outline drawing and caricatures which is quite different from a general road map.

While en route in your daily activities, you may encounter a dead end. This is not uncommon. Do not worry. You can find another detour path if you continue to search for it. Car-navigation systems tell us this is true. If a river obstructs your way, build a bridge to across over it. If a high mountain does, dig a tunnel to go under it. I hope you will go through your life in this way. Because of your studies at Osaka Prefecture University, I am sure you can do it for a brilliant future.

If you have time, please feel free to come back to the OPU campus in the future. The OPU Sakura festival in April and OPU university festivals in May and November always welcome you.

Thank you for your kind attention. Once again, congratulations on your graduation.

March 24, 2018
Hiroshi TSUJI, president of OPU

NB: Full address is posted on the Japanese official OPU website.

President’s Commencement Address (Japanese language)