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During a welcoming ceremony for the newest class at the nation’s top school, University of Tokyo President Shigehiko Hasumi told students April 13 to let go of preconceptions and dare to confront the ideas and thoughts of others.

Hasumi told the assembly of 3,846 new students that a recent spate of financial scandals, some involving University of Tokyo graduates, stems from the failure of exclusive communities to adapt to new ways of thinking.

He said the school does not exist to reproduce preconceived ideas and images but to provide the possibility for discovering various wonders of the world. “Living in comfort with generalized ideas deprives you of the chances to appreciate diversity,” said Hasumi, also a well known literary and film critic.

He asked the students to start by breaking free from the established public images that surround top students of the elite university. “I want to absorb everything I can, because I did earn this chance,” said Kaori Murai, who will study international relations. She is among the 590 new female students.

Among the 30 students from overseas, enrolled either by national or government expense, Michael Johnston of New Zealand said he not only wants to study Japanese perspectives but also introduce viewpoints from overseas. He will major in international law and hopes to become a diplomat.

The Tokyo entrance ceremony was held in Chiyoda Ward’s Nippon Budokan. The school celebrated its 120th anniversary last year and is the oldest national university.

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