This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia-Pacific War. Chuo University has been greatly affected by this war, and at the same time has acknowledged that we sent students onto the battlefield and are responsible for involving them in the war.
With the passing of 70 long years, it is becoming difficult for us to imagine the harsh reality that our country was once in the midst of a great war. Students nowadays study to embark on the path that they have chosen and, while doing so, communicate with friends and teachers, thinking about what they plan to do in the future after they graduate. To the youth of the past, such a time of carefree adolescence was unattainable no matter how much they longed for it. In the midst of such an era, one student loathed parting with a school friend, who had enlisted in the army and left behind his name on the school register, and wrote a “song of parting regrets”. This was sung at the graduation ceremony afterwards, and has been sung at graduation ever since.
When we look at the world, we must remember that even today, there are many people who are unable to live in safety or learn freely. As students of Chuo University, taking into account its experience, we should once again be grateful for having this secure place of learning. It is important for us to realize where we stand and be thankful for being able to build our strength to succeed in the future.
Chuo University has actively promoted education that supports democracy and provided opportunities of study and learning to a great number of citizens as part of the post-war education reforms. We have been managing the university democratically, and a democratic education system has taken root with the implementation of an open-door policy for female students in 1946, the establishment of a correspondence education department in 1948, and the organization of a university festival by the student council and other organizations in 1950.
Moreover, after the war, the university carried out a memorial service for the war dead in 1948; a war renunciation week in 1954; a survey of the students who had died during their service and a memorial service for them in 1955; a peace ceremony under the name of “Chuo University Day to Love Peace and be Grateful to the Local Community and our Planet” in 1993, which marked the 50th anniversary of “departure of students for the front”; and finally, in 1998 and 1999, the presentation of special diplomas to students who were from former colonial territories. In this way, Chuo University has reflected on the past and continued to work toward the future.
This year, though, is not only the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia-Pacific War but also the 130th anniversary of the University’s founding. On July 8th, the founding day, a memorial lecture titled “Chuo University: During and After the War” was given, signifying the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. We will also hold a symposium on October 21st, the anniversary of the “Send-Off Party for Student Soldiers”, and other exhibitions will be held to look back at the war period and our university, with the hope of passing this on to the next generation.
Chuo University has been nurturing talented individuals since its founding, and even seven decades after the great war ended, the memories of conflict and lives lost continue to be passed on. Learning from this profound experience that has been engraved on the heart of the university, Chuo will continue to make contributions to society and to the advancement of human welfare through committed involvement in education and research.
Chancellor and President, Chuo University