Message from the President

Message from the President

"Independent Personality" in a Changing Society

Message from the PresidentThe name "Dokkyo" is a coinage of the Japanese terms "Doitsu-gaku" (German studies) and "kyōkai" (association). The origin of Dokkyo University dates back to the establishment of the German Association School in 1883. The first principal, Amane Nishi (1829-1897), was selected as a Yogakusha (scholar of Western learning) to be dispatched to the Netherlands by the Tokugawa Shogunate. He spent two years in the Netherlands, where he learned the international law of Grotius and the philosophy of Kant. Upon his return to Japan, Nishi faced the significant historical transition of the Meiji Restoration. In the rapid modernization of Japan after the Restoration, the German Association School was established as an educational institution of German scholarship. One of the youths who studied at this school and ushered in the new era was Teiyu Amano (1884-1980), who would later found Dokkyo University.

Teiyu Amano accomplished a complete translation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as a researcher of Kantian philosophy. Kant deeply pondered what humans can know and what they ought to do, transcending frameworks such as nation and state. Grotius, whom Amane Nishi studied, also advocated for the existence of universal laws beyond nations, earning him the title of "Father of International Law." Grotius, Kant, Amane Nishi, and Teiyu Amano were all thinkers who explored the universal values and international common rules that humanity should share beyond nations and eras. Dokkyo University stands within this lineage of thought.

While emphasizing cosmopolitanism, Dokkyo is an educational institution bearing the name of Germany. Consequently, it couldn't remain unaffected by the tumult of international society in history. During World War I, Germany became an enemy country to Japan, placing the German Association School in a crisis. After Japan and Germany were defeated together in the Second World War, there was a period where the name "Dokkyo" was reinterpreted as a coinage of "dokuritsu" (independence) and "kyōwa" (harmony).

Teiyu Amano, as an educator, also faced the rough waves of history. Before World War II, Amano, then a professor at Kyoto Imperial University, criticized authoritarian moral education, leading to a confrontation with the military, and his book Sense of Morality was forced out of publication. For Amano, who held an educational view based on Kantian philosophy, human dignity lay in "listening to the voice of moral law within oneself," and nationalist moral education and Kantian universal morality were incompatible. After the war, when he became the Minister of Education, Amano argued for the revival of moral education to convey the significance of acting according to internal moral norms, but he faced criticism as an advocate of reactionary moral education.

Internal moral law can possess universality that transcends the framework of the nation, state, and current trends. Dokkyo University was founded in 1964 by Teiyu Amano with the aim of nurturing individuals with an "independent personality" capable of acting according to universal values. The first article of Dokkyo University's regulations states that it aims to cultivate "independent personalities" capable of dealing with complex domestic and international situations. Even today, we live in an era of change, facing challenges such as environmental destruction, rapid advances of AI, and international conflicts. Rather than being afraid of the unseen future, we need to continue seeking the happiness and well-being of individuals and the peace of society amidst changing times. Dokkyo University is a place where the power of each individual is nurtured to seek universal values that transcend differences in time and region and to connect those norms to practice in the face of the challenges that arise in today's society.

The term "independent personality" may sound complicated, but it simply means that each person possesses their own sensibilities and judgment and acts according to them. Listening to the voice within one's heart and following it requires courage at times. This courage is nurtured by understanding the world, grasping history, and empathizing with others. Even modest courage is valuable. If each individual has courage, society will change. I hope and believe that Dokkyo University students will cultivate such courage and pave the way to a better future.