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March 6, 2010

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Training tomorrow's leaders

KATSUHIKO Shirai was born in Dalian, China, in 1939 and grew up in Tokyo. He is president of Japan's Waseda University, where he was instrumental in starting an exchange program that enrolls students from Peking University and Fudan University and allows Waseda students the opportunity to study in China.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in the event of "Expo Tributes from 100 Eminent Voices." It is a great honor and pleasure for me both as president of Waseda University and on behalf of our university.

Apart from orchestrating its own phenomenal economic growth, China has been striving to strengthen ties with countries around the world. The global economy has suffered a tailspin in 2008. China, as the first country to rise up from the crisis, has become a beacon of hope to the world.

The great success of the Beijing Olympic Games in August 2008 is fresh in our memories. Such economic, sports and cultural exchanges have helped people around the world to understand China and have deepened their understanding of the "harmonious society" that China has been advocating.

It is my enduring belief that World Expo 2010 Shanghai will promote even greater opportunities for China's growth and will mark the beginning of an era when China will play a greater role on the international stage.

Waseda University has devoted intense efforts to the education of Chinese young people since 1905, when it set up a department for students from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). To our great pride, Waseda University has trained many of the outstanding people who laid the foundation for present-day China, such as Li Dazhao, one of the founders of the Communist Party of China.

We cherish not only our historical ties with China, but also the opportunity of continuing to train outstanding Chinese talent in the next 100 years to promote the mutual benefit and common development of Japan and China.

With that purpose in mind, we have formed educational exchanges with more than 90 Chinese colleges, educational institutions and research facilities. We have already launched a large number of cooperative projects related to student teaching and academic study, and are now preparing for the creation of the first graduate school jointly run by Japanese and Chinese universities.

I always remember the words of Chinese President Hu Jintao during his visit to our university in May 2008: "Young people in the two countries are the new blood for Sino-Japanese friendship, whose future relies on efforts from both of them."

As people dedicated to higher education, we have an obligation to move forward in our goal of training the young talent who will contribute to the future of Japan, China and indeed the whole world.

The theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai is "Better City, Better Life." We share this goal. With the rapid advancement of globalization, many problems now challenge human society: preservation of the environment, wise use of resources, easing of ethnic tensions and bridging conflicts of values.

To solve these problems, the whole world must work together and with resolution. The message implied in the logo of Shanghai World Expo is that the Chinese people wish to host an exposition of global and multicultural convergence. That strikes a responsive chord in the world. I am quite certain that the Chinese people will continue their pursuit of creative and sustainable development through World Expo 2010 and beyond.

I am told that the exposition will attract 70 million visitors. By its resourceful planning and thoughtful implementation, this exhibition is certain to present a positive image of present-day China and to offer the world multi-faceted concepts exploring human potential, economic development, environmental protection, cultural understanding, technological innovation and the advancement of urban and rural areas.

I have witnessed China's recovery from the earthquake in Sichuan, the success of the Beijing Olympic Games and the nation's strong, ongoing commitment to development.

I predict World Expo 2010 Shanghai will be a great success and will surprise the world. On behalf of Waseda University, I would like to express our best wishes for a very successful World Expo 2010 as well as our heartfelt appreciation for all the people who have worked so hard to make this great event a reality.


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