In 1937, a monument was inscribed at Waseda University in calligraphy by Japanese statesman Hisoka Maejima and installed near the main gate. It held that its mission would be the fostering of good citizens, and an independence of scholarship that would contribute to the world: a mission it still holds today.
First established as Tokyo College in early 1882, the institution was renamed Waseda Daigaku (Waseda University) in 1902, after acquiring official designation. The university library was also completed around this time, and schools of education, commerce and engineering were set up to complement its faculties of political science, law, English, natural science and literature.
In the inter-war period, a new auditorium and theatre museum were established at the university and, by 1939, women students were admitted for the first time. During World War II, many parts of the campus were destroyed in American air raids. Reconstruction and renovation began after the war had finished and, in 1949, the university re-opened.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the university expanded, with Tanzan Ishibashi becoming the first Waseda alumnus to become Prime Minister, in 1956. The next year, along with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he became the first to receive an honourary doctorate.
Robert F. Kennedy came to participate in a student debate at Waseda in 1962, the year before his brother’s death, and published a book about it, Just Friends and Brave Enemies. He went on to donate the book’s royalties to a scholarship at Waseda, the Robert Kennedy scholarship, which continues to this day.
Other world leaders associated with Waseda include Bill Clinton, who gave a lecture at the Okuma Auditorium in 1993 and took a question and answer session with students, while Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1995.
The university made history in 1998 when the first ever official visit to Japan by a Chinese head of state, President Jiang Zemin, featured a speech at Waseda. In 2005 Bill Gates was the recipient of another honorary doctorate.