Table Speech

Initiation Speech

January 26,2011

Mr. Mitsuru Uchida
Mr. Katsuji Ebisawa

Initiation Speech 1

Mr. Mitsuru Uchida
Professor and Chairman, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Jikei University School of Medicine

“Facial Appearance and Plastic Surgery”

 I am a plastic surgeon, yet I guess what we actually do is not recognized properly. I have been questioned, on numerous occasions, about the differences between plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery. To give you a brief answer, plastic surgery aims at improving the overall quality of life.

 In Western countries I do not need to explain the differences, yet when I introduce myself as a plastic surgeon, ladies take a great interest in me! I always have to quickly re-introduce myself as a ‘pediatric plastic surgeon’, on which they show a sudden look of disappointment. For Western people, plastic surgeon is a synonym of cosmetic surgery.

 People have been concerned about their facial appearance from ancient times. Yet, plastic surgery was born quite recently. Many soldiers got injured during World War I, and a certain group of surgeons in Europe treated their facial injuries, which gave birth to an independent medical department, the plastic surgery. Surgeons worked hard to reconstruct injured faces, and the new technology of improving facial appearance made a dramatic progress. Cosmetic surgery was born during the brief peaceful time that arrived right after World War I, and it spread rapidly, first to the US, and then to the rest of the world.

 Facial appearance does not necessarily correspond to one’s self image, yet it is closely related. How people interpret one’s self-image through face differs largely from people to people. It also changes over one’s lifetime.

 The ratio of babies born with disfigurements has remained the same since olden times regardless of medical advancement. Such babies usually have their first surgery during the first few months of their lives. Yet, many children have to undergo more surgery. Children rarely care about their features before entering elementary schools. Things start to change when entering elementary schools, which is a critical phase in character building. This is why plastic surgeons take utmost care to make children adjust smoothly to their first year at elementary school. The prime focus of treatment plan is to make children feel comfortable about their appearance when they enter elementary schools.

 Cosmetic surgeons play significant roles, especially when our patients experience major changes in their life. Plastic surgery has two phases; a spectacular phase of making one’s looks beautiful like cosmetic surgery, and the basic but crucial phase of reconstruction. Let me close my speech by stating that in reality, there is no dividing line between spectacular cosmetic surgery and the basic reconstructive one, both are inter-linked.

Initiation Speech 2

Mr. Katsuji Ebisawa
Vice Chairman, WasedaSaga-gakuen

“Educating the Younger Generation to
Become a Cosmopolitan”

 All countries now focus on human resource development as the most important national policy with a long-term perspective. The former-colonies and underdeveloped countries, as well as the so-called emerging countries are striving to catch up with developed nations by educating the younger generation to become an active cosmopolitan in the current global society. When we look back on Japanese history, terakoya (private elementary schools at temples) or hanko (schools established by feudal lords) laid the foundations of modern Japan, leading to the Meiji Restoration. Japan strived to overtake and surpass the West under the two slogans: “national prosperity and defense” and “promotion of industry.”

 After the War, Japanese educational system changed drastically under the American occupational policy. Firstly, the educational system came to be based on the 6-3-3-4 system (6 years of elementary, 3 years of junior high, 3 years of senior high school, and 4 years of college). All the 32 high schools under the prewar education system as well as teachers’ training schools at each prefecture established for elite education were abolished. History, culture and moral education were neglected, which eventually degraded the spiritual culture and overall educational level of Japan.

 Relevant organizations have been discussing how to reform the current educational system. Although some minor modifications have been made, an overall reform is yet to take place. Japan and the Japanese have come to enjoy an affluent life, thanks to the high economic growth. All applicants are now able to be admitted to high school. The number of universities has increased steadily, and there are now 756 national, public and private universities with 2.8 million students.

 As Japan entered the age of “declining birthrate and aging population,” the number of entrance exam applicants has decreased, which causes financial difficulties to some schools. Fewer and fewer Japanese students are anxious to study abroad, while an increasing number of Chinese and South Korean students study overseas today.

 The most alarming fact is that majority of university students today show neither distinctive individuality nor attractiveness. They are very diligent, yet they all look the same. When I was recruiting students at NHK, I could not find many appealing young candidates with individuality.

 A sense of crisis is developing in the educational field, calling for immediate countermeasures. We must come up with a unique plan to allow diverse educational options.

 After retiring from NHK, I have been working with like-minded colleagues, including former President of Waseda University Mr. Okushima and founded the WasedaSaga-gakuen last spring, affiliated to Waseda University. This school is based in Karatsu city in Saga, the hometown of Marquis Shigenobu Ookuma (founder of Waseda University). This co-education school aims to educate excellent students and outstanding athletes, based on a life of simplicity and fortitude. On the model of high school under the prewar education system or British public schools, students study under the 6-year-curriculum and are required to live in dormitories. It collaborates with national Kyushu University and Saga University for human resource development.

 Today, Japan faces various challenges of declining birthrate and aging population, nuclearization of the family, or collapsing local communities. I am determined to foster broad-minded students with humanity and compassion, who are willing to give a helping hand to others, ready to understand and respect different cultures, have a strong sense of responsibility, and have patience and perseverance to become a cosmopolitan.