World Maritime University Graduation Ceremony

Malmö, Sweden

Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of IMO; Dr. Karl Laubstein, President of WMU; distinguished guests; WMU faculty members; class of 2004:

It is a great honor and pleasure to be here today for your graduation ceremony. I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to each and every one of the graduates. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Laubstein for presenting me with an honorary doctorate.

It is such an honor to have my support to WMU recognized in this way. Having said that, if I think about it carefully, I suppose that with this certificate, the university is asking me to contribute even more. This, I am happy to say, is a challenge that I am very willing to accept.

The Nippon Foundation was founded by my late father Ryoichi Sasakawa. His philosophy was “the world is one family; all humankind are brothers and sisters.” This is the basis of our work. Work that transcends political beliefs, ideology, religion, race and national boundaries.

My father grew up in Japan, a nation surrounded by the sea. Thus, he had a deep passion for the ocean. He was convinced of the need to foster ocean experts who could think and act globally. There are many issues related to the ocean that need to be addressed in this way. New problems have surfaced in recent years. Protection of the safe navigation of international waterways. Conservation of the marine environment. Ocean pollution. Maritime terrorism. I am convinced that the world needs individuals who can address these issues from a global perspective. But the unfortunate reality is that there is still a grave shortage of experts in the maritime field who can excel on the world stage.

I have come to believe that the best way to address ocean issues in the manner envisioned by my father is to promote human resources development on a global scale. This is the reason I have been supporting WMU since 1987. My foundation provides educational opportunities to individuals of exceptional character. We do this so that they can further their expertise in their field. But equally importantly, we hope to instill future leaders with a vision that transcends borders. The world needs leaders who possess a deep insight into the many issues facing the international community. We need leaders with a great respect for the diversity of values and cultures. With a strong determination to work for world peace and prosperity. With the ability to act on these beliefs and convictions.

You graduates sitting here in front of me possess all of these qualities. I have no doubt that you will become some of our world’s most influential leaders in the future. Your time at WMU has provided you with valuable friendships and extensive networks. I personally will make every no effort in helping you to further expand those networks after graduation. WMU graduates are contributing to the development of the maritime sector worldwide and I try to meet with as many of them as possible, whenever my work takes me abroad. In their presence, I feel truly at home.

In any age, it is always the youth who bring about social change and transformation. It may be easy to simply follow the path of experience and knowledge left by those who went before you. But it is my sincere hope that you will have the courage to open up new paths for yourselves. I consider it my most important mission to help set the stage for future leaders like you.

The wake of a ship depends on the size and shape of the ship. Each ship leaves a unique wake in its path. Each of us, also, leaves a unique wake. For you who are about to embark on your new journeys, it is my sincere hope that each of you will have the courage to stay true to your ideals and beliefs. I urge you to leave impressive wakes on the vast ocean of the 21st century.

During my last visit to WMU, I introduced the Oriental saying, “It takes ten years for a tree to grow, but a hundred years to foster human resources.” However, in just twenty years, WMU has sent many outstanding individuals out into the world. It is these leaders who, over the next century, will build and nurture our world into a truly global community.

Under the strong leadership of Dr. Karl Laubstein, WMU has developed into an institution that is recognized for its excellence worldwide. I commend this achievement. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the family members of graduating students. It is you who have provided them with the support and encouragement throughout their studies. And my final thanks go to the faculty, staff and alumni who have provided the students with unending support, encouragement and a wonderful learning environment.

Well done, WMU.