Hiroshima University pursues a spirit for peace

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

This April, Hiroshima University will distribute a newly-made pamphlet to all entering freshmen as an aspect of its peace education efforts. The pamphlet, the first of its kind at the school, is designed to raise the students' awareness of the university's spirit for peace as an institution of the A-bombed city. Students are expected to visit peace-related facilities listed in the pamphlet, such as Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and turn in a report regarding their experiences. The university plans to implement a formal course in peace studies starting in 2009 after examining the results of a survey on this matter involving freshmen.

The A4 size pamphlets are printed in color on both sides and folded into four parts. They will be distributed to about 2,400 freshmen at orientation sessions held by each department in early April. Dr. Toshimasa Asahara, President of Hiroshima University, personally wrote the lettering for the title, “A Spirit Pursuing Peace,” and encourages the students in the pamphlet's greeting by saying, “I hope you will all contemplate the importance of peace.”

Inside the pamphlet is found the school's motto, “A single unified university, free and pursuing peace”--this is the spirit in which Tatsuo Morito, the first President, set forth the foundation of Hiroshima University. The pamphlet also introduces five peace-related facilities: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Yamato Museum (in the city of Kure), Reference Gallery for Education of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy (Etajima), Ohkunoshima Poison Gas Museum (Takehara) and Holocaust Education Center (Fukuyama).

The freshmen are expected to visit at least one of the five facilities and turn in a report in May. At the same time, the university will carry out a survey to determine the students' awareness of peace issues and their interests concerning the contents of a peace studies course. Based on the results of this survey and other factors, the new peace studies course will be made a liberal arts requirement in 2009. To date, more than 10 peace-related classes have been offered, but they have all been electives.

Vice-President Shinichi Ue explained the purpose of these new efforts, saying, “About 70% of our freshmen are from other parts of Japan. It's time we take steps to convey the essential spirit of Hiroshima University to our students.”