Waseda University Vice President Shuji Hashimoto was awarded the title of Commander in the Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic. Mr. Giorgio Starace, Ambassador of Italy to Japan, presented Vice President Hashimoto with the award in a ceremony held at the Italian Embassy in Tokyo on October 29.
The Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic is the country’s highest ranking honor and is bestowed upon those who make a major contribution to Italy in the fields of sciences, arts, philanthropy and more.
At this time, the award recognized Vice President Hashimoto’s research achievements in robotics, including his contribution to the Japan-Italy cooperation in the fields of science and technology, particularly in humanoid and service robotics; the promotion and realization of a joint laboratory between Waseda University and Italy’s Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies; and the development of various systems suitable for communication between humans and machines, such as image and digital audio analysis systems for humanoid robots.
Upon receiving the award, Vice President Hashimoto expressed his gratitude and said, “Many robotics researchers are gathered here today, and it is my greatest pleasure to receive this award recognizing the collective effort at Waseda University.” Also, he mentioned one of the reasons why the word Kansei went untranslated and spread throughout the world, which was because of an international symposium held in Italy that used the word Kansei as it was when research on Kansei information processing first began.
Lastly, Vice President Hashimoto quoted a phrase from the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose,” which reads, “Whereof one cannot theorize, thereof one must narrate.” He said, “I believe these words may be a hint to understanding Kansei, which is becoming an important keyword in terms of it being a beneficial technology for humans, and I would like to pursue this as a future research interest.”
Waseda University has been strengthening its bilateral cooperation with Italy, and currently, there are 21 university-wide agreements and 12 departmental agreements with Italian universities and institutions. Further, 28 Italian students are studying at Waseda as of May 2018, and in the 2017 academic year, more than 32 students had gone abroad to study in Italy.
Moreover, every year since 2001, Waseda University and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies have co-organized the Italy-Japan Workshop. Sponsored by the Italian Embassy in Japan, this workshop discusses and analyzes themes related to robotics involving governments, universities, research centers, and industries from the two countries. Last year, the workshop focused on applications of robotics in the field of sport sciences.
Waseda University promises to further advance robotics research and academic exchange between Japan and Italy, and strive to cultivate global citizens who will drive change in society for a brighter future.