VIU Professor Hiroshi Nishihara tragically passed away on January 22nd, following a car accident in Tokyo.
Hiroshi Nishihara, 59, was Professor of Constitutional Law at Waseda University, where he has also been Dean of the Graduate School of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute of Social Sciences. He was National Bar Examiner for the Ministry of Justice of Japan. He was an internationally renowned scholar, who published numerous authoritative academic books and articles in Japanese, German and English. His main fields of research were Constitutionalism, Fundamental Theories on Human Rights, Constitution of the Welfare State and Sex Equality. Among other things, he was author of a book, explaining the Japanese Constitution to primary and middle school students.
Nishihara was an invaluable champion of "constitutional values", historically understood in the framework of Human Rights and Democracy. He thought, that in today's plural societies, which are challenged by multiculturalism and feminism, "the significance of constitutional values lies not in maximizing the contribution to national culture at the expense of the rights and interests of minorities, but in making peaceful coexistence possible". In our cosmopolitan world, he believed, constitutional values had to be established at a global level.
At VIU in Fall 2017, he taught Social Exclusion and Human Rights and Comparing East and West: Comparative Studies on Religious Liberties. He was a great colleague and a wonderful person. He was due to return to Venice in February, to teach in the Spring 2018 semester. We were very much looking forward to working with him. He was so much into the Globalization Program spirit: an outstanding and rigorous professor and scholar, always in the front line when we asked for contributions, actively participating in the faculty meetings, interdisciplinary workshop and co-curricular activities, even attending the Italian class - a student among students. At the end of term ceremony, just a month ago, he earned the loudest applauses from both our faculty and students.
It is difficult to believe such an unexpected devastating thing has happened. We all feel very close to his family, whom we met in Venice, and to the Waseda community in this enormous loss. He was one of us.
Director of the Globalization Program
Venice International University
Book of Condolences in memory of Prof. Hiroshi Nishihara
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“Once you are part of my seminar, you will always be part of it”. This is the last sentence you told us during the last lesson of Social Exclusion and Human Rights, while kindly giving to each of us your card “to keep in touch”.
Dear Hiroshi, it’s hard to find the right words to describe how unfair and horrifying the news of your passing is. I can’t believe it. I would just like to thank you. Thank you for having been such a good, understanding and kind professor. I will always remember your wise and meaningful teachings, I will bring them with me forever. You were not only a good teacher, but also a wonderful example of kindness and wisdom and I feel extremely honored to have had the opportunity to be part of your seminar.
My heartfelt condolences go out to your family and friends. You will not be forgotten.
I had the honour and the pleasure to have Hiroshi in our italian class in Venice. I have no words now to explain how positive was his attitude in class, a real example for all our students.
A very nice person. We will miss him a lot
An incredible person, professional when at work but funny and nice too, a person that really loved Venice and Italy, he really was one of us.
I will never forget how he was nice too me...
I was waiting for meeting him again this semester but this bad news really surprised and saddened me.
My deepest condolences to the Family for this unexpected loss.
I met Hiroshi only three times in my life, during my first year at VIU, still I had the opportunity to perceive his incredible intelligence and humanity. I am without words for this tragedy. May my condolences give comfort to his family. R.I.P.
Hope and I mourn the loss of our friend, Hiroshi. We rode so many times together on the vaporetto to San Servolo, sitting side-by-side, and had many good talks about teaching and our mutual interests in democracy and civic engagement. He was always gracious, always smiling, always ready with a handshake and well-wishes for the day. A highlight of the semester was our time with Hiroshi, Kyoko, and Masahiro at our apartment and later at the pizza restaurant together. We were together in the questura and so many other times as colleagues negotiating a new place. Hiroshi truly embodied the international experience that we all came to cherish at VIU. I learned so much from him. When we departed, we said we would count on seeing one another again, perhaps in Japan, we said when we last spoke. I made sure to tell my Duke colleague, Simon, to look up my good friend when he arrives in Venice. I'm now so sad he will now miss that opportunity. We will miss you so much, Hiroshi. Thank you for all the tangible and intangible ways that you touched our lives. To Kyoko and family, we send you our condolences and hugs of sorrow. Charlie and Hope
Although I did not have any classes with Prof. Nishihara last semester, I could not forget the memory that once time, he came to me and said that he had taken some photos of me in a seminar, and would like to send me because he thought I may like it. I was very glad due to the friendliness and kindness of the professor. God bless him in heaven
I cannot believe that. I was studying italian together. He seems like to be my friend. I feel sad and loneliness to hear the news. I wish he go to heaven luckly.
As a Waseda student learning in VIU, any word seems to fall too short in expressing my sorrow.
His loss is reported daily on many Japanese media, and this, though a unbearable tradigity, symbolizes how great he was to us.
With our affection and deepest condolences.
Dear professor Hiroshi, it's very hard and strange to write about you in past tense. Your presence is so lively and positive that is impossible to believe it's gone.
The card you gave us in class is still in my wallet, an evidence of what a kind person you are and a wonderful teacher, who told us his door is always open for his students.
Thank you for enriching us with so many important issues, for your eager to teach, for letting us to express ourselvs, for giving us the place to explain about our culture and for your big interest in what we we have to say.
Thank you for your intelligent, wise remakes and for being also a wonderful person outside of class and greeting everyone with a big smile. Your kindness was always expressed, even through emails.
You'd be missed by everyone. I send my condolences to your dear family and friends.
Sara De Vido
Dear Hiroshi, I will always remember the nice chats we had on common fields of research during the Fall semester. From the very beginning, I saw your kindness and your commitment for the students. You were always so supportive, thoughtful and an excellent researcher. It was so nice when you wrote to me some words in Italian in your e-mails, and I tried to reply with the only few words I know in Japanese. I am sorry we will not be able to meet in Treviso first and then in Tokyo as planned. The dinner we had together with all the faculty, talking about Japan and Italy, comes to my mind now. A moment of joy. Your smile and your kind words will be always in my heart. The tragic news was such a shock for all of us, I could not believe it. My condolences to Kyoko - there are no words to heal your sorrow - your family, friends, and all the persons that shared a piece of their life with you. We will miss you. R.I.P.
I am shocked!
You were supposed to hear my success story on the stage soon! You were supposed to watch me telling the stories i have told you about! The plans and the changes I am about to make!
I was waiting to receive your e-mail from the last week, telling me ‘Dear Dlovan, I have done what you asked me, and now i will be waiting for your speech”!
We were supposed to meet up once again to have the long lasting conversations, the deep talks where i was the son, and you were the father.
We were supposed to meet in the next occasion!
You were always the best listener, the best observer to all the issues, and the most goodhearted person seeking solutions for the problems causing the world today.
What kills me the most is that I am going to succeed, but you wont see me achieving it 😞
You left very early, you left in a time where i need such souls the most, but i promise you, to go on your path as long as i’m breathing.
Rest in Peace my dear professor, father and a best friend
I won’t be able to see you again, but in my heart, you live on.
He stopped me once in the mac lab because he wanted to let me have some pictures he had taken during a workshop I had taken part in...i didn't know him because I had never had him as a professor and I was surprised at his kindness...it really struck me...I will remember him as a smiling person...
Gad Kaynar Kissinger
My dear, dear friend Hiroshi,
It took me more than a day to sit down and write these words. I can't overcome the shock, I can't digest the unfairness of this death. Hiroshi, in my memory you are, and will stay as long as I live, not only as one of the most inherently intelligent and profoundly wise persons that I have ever known, but as a kind, warm, gentle, modest and humane man. In the Italian beginners' course that we shared together, you were an exemplary student - diligent, hard-working, attentive, refraining from using your professorship and reputation as an excuse for getting any "bonuses", a humble student among student, a model of studying for the love of it. Since I had to miss classes from time to time, you always sent me long reports about the material i have missed, never tiring of explaining, of sharing. Your students loved you not only because you were and are in their minds a great teacher, but because you were a caring father for them, and a "Mensch". You were a personification of the truly liberal juridical opinions - always smiling, always an attentive listener and a thoughtful speaker as if you know the value of knowledge, always giving space to the ideas of your conversation partner . With all that, you also had such a wonderful and kind, never malicious sense of humour. And because of your good-heated nature, our wives and family members liked each other from the first glance. And we decided to swap apartments in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, and perhaps exchange lectures in our respective universities. Now this will never happen, but we'll find a way to commemorate your memory. Hiroshi, wherever you are now, rest in peace, the Peace that your entire personality radiated. Your inspiration will light up our future. Sayounara, dear friend!
He was really a great person.
My deepest condolences to his family.
I last saw Hiroshi on the 2nd of January, and he was the last person I expected to see at San Servolo that night. But when he called me from the end of the corridor I was so happy to see that I was not alone there. I still remember the Christmas sweater with small reindeers he was wearing: it looked so strange but so beautiful on him. I had only really seen him in formal suits before. I could definitely tell that he fully enjoyed the holidays with his family. When I approached him, we hugged and we talked about trips and papers. I would never have thought that it was the last time I'd ever see him.
A long time has passed since I first met him in September: I have changed so much and he had too. Venice changed us! In the beginning I was a bit skeptical of his teaching approach, but as time passed I learnt to appreciate and love his way of doing things! He was precise but not too much; his comments were always kind, because he did not want to make you feel criticized, but they hit the spot every time: I've always thought (especially during my presentation) "why didn't I think about this before?"
For these reasons, he was extremely humble and he became one of us, because he wanted everyone to be a professor. He was eager to learn from his students, I have never seen such a curiosity in any of the professors I have had.
I respected him so much and I felt like he respected me too: the smiles and the small nods of agreement we shared on the corridors were a sign of this mutual high regard that we were both aware of.
This made our relationship a friendship and I like to think that he enjoyed it as much as I did.
I am extremely thankful for having met him and shared time and knowledge with him.
Now, I wish Hiroshi a beautiful journey and I send my deepest condolences to his family and to his loved ones.
Dear Professor Hiroshi,
It is complicated to find the right words for such a goodbye, if there are really some. I was not one of your students during the program, but I can assure that, since the very beginning of the Opening Cerimony, I could see the beauty of your personality in your warm smile and your positive attitude. You will be missed, Hiroshi. My condolences especially to your wife and the closest ones.
May your soul rest in peace.
“Oh yes.” Those are the words that come to mind when I think back to being in the presence of Hiroshi Nishihara. I don’t know how many times I heard him pronounce them, but I believe they were always there when he spoke, when he thought, when he responded to whatever it was that caught his attention during the time we shared together in Venice. Of course, it did not always mean “yes” when Hiroshi said those words. Hiroshi was also able and willing to say no—and I respected him for that, too. But with Hiroshi—in his presence and for himself, I think—it all seemed to emanate from the place of that gentle but radiant light that he knew how to suffuse over everything, simply with his “Oh yes.” Not despite, but because it is so painful, I will share a personal anecdote here. Hiroshi was the first new colleague I remember meeting this past semester at VIU. It was the day we visited the Film Festival on Lido. We waited talking in line together, Hiroshi insisted on taking a couple of photos of Kyoko and me outside, and then we sat next to each other, in the dark, silently, watching the films. When it was over, I had the impression of sharing with him a natural affinity and, like so many who have written about Hiroshi, I knew there was with him already the beginnings of a genuine friendship. He had that gift: of giving over and over the feeling of a beginning, of a future that could always hold more. It is for me exceedingly difficult, and painful, to think about how that particular future, with him, must now be carried, by me, alone. It is precisely at the moment when we are so cruelly deprived of Hiroshi’s Oh yes that we are in most need of him to say it for us.
Prof. Nishihara was one of the professor who was very close to us students. As he is also from my home university, Waseda University, it is very sad to lose such a wonderful person. Although I did not take any of his courses, we attended the same Italian class and his participation was better than any one of us. The sudden loss of prof. Nishihara is sad, but we will never forget him.
To an amazing, ambitious, unique, intelligent, fair professor and man: Unfortunately, I didn't attend your courses at VIU but I still remember our first meeting in front of the printers when you explained me how to scan with these complicated "printing machines"...
This is how I remember Hiroshi!! Always ready to help whenever he can or someone seems lost... A friendly and warm smile and "Good morning" for everybody... ambitious and motivated in teaching his passion...
I send my deepest condolences to your dear family and friends.
I remember his warm and kind smile to me and us, in always. Although I have not listened to his classes, I will not forget the warm spirit he has contributed to our group. I hope my and our condolences be reached to his family and friends warmly.
The loss of Hiroshi makes me terribly sad, but at the same time I feel thankful for having met such a great man and Professor. I will always remind his kindness and his smile, his willingness to bring out the best from his student: I will make a treasure of his experience and suggestions he shared with us.
I am really close to the family, my thoughts and my prayers are for you.
I had took his class around 20 year ago... 1996 when I was 1st year of Undergraduate, Social Science Department of Waseda Univ. Ive felt so sad by this tragic accident happened on our country. That class was so huge. Total student was around 200. However, Dr Nishihara's message was so clear to give us to recognize the historical background of basic human rights definition of Japanese Law. Now Im running my own company as a consultant. Dr Nishihara's message at my late 10's, was my starting point. He gave me the strength to believe myself and live more freely like a bird because we are living world under the certified law. World is now starting change toward big transformation. I will start learn his spirit again and never loose his spirit on my life course. Dr Nishihara, again, Thank you for you great message!!!!
Even though we only met for a short time, I feel extremely lucky for this brief encounter. You were a great teacher, one of those few real educators with a spark in your eye. You had a passion for your field – both for teaching and learning it. You were always our teacher, and also our student. Your curious and yet humble nature made you a role model, on the thin line between a distinguished professor and a forever-young student in heart.
This trait was also apparent your personal character. You were kind, warm and funny. You always lit up the room with your unique and shining smile. I know for fact you were among the most beloved teachers of the semester, and this showed when everyone clapped in your honor during the closing ceremony, or even casually saying “hello” to you on the corridors of San Servolo. I miss you very much. And I will always remember your bright, childish and yet wise character. Thank you very much for our time together – It was amazing.
Miss you and love you,
Recently I have experienced many deaths of my loved ones within months and even weeks apart, and yours is the another one I have added this past break. To be completely honest, I am still recuperating after hearing your news. The culmination of my losses left me incapacitated to the point that it was so useless to contact me. I have been gone- grieving and falling a deep hole that was very difficult for me to overcome, but I realized that I needed to get ahold of myself and start appreciating the life that we were given.
With that being said, I wish to express some words of gratitude for having met you, dearest Professor Hiroshi. Such was a sweet blessing that I shared not only one but two classes with you. I would see you first thing in the morning for Italian class, and then I had the pleasure to be in your Comparing East and West class the next day. As your peer in Italian, I can clearly see how your quiet intelligence spoke volumes through your dedication and desire to achieve more than what was expected of you. You always strived to do more, to learn more, and to give more. As your student, I can certainly see your passion and curiosity about global issues and questioning the students to think further beyond just the problem at hand. You wanted us to discuss solutions, not just problems- even if “it’s complicated.” That running joke still is able to make me smile as I reminisce the good times. You have always asked, “What should be done about this?” Then, you’d open the floor for us to discuss our home country’s issues regarding religion and politics. Thank you, Professor Hiroshi.
Your face became a familiar routine for me, and you gave me a sense of peace at home. So often would I run into you in the hallways or even Coop Market, and your kind eyes and smile would always greet me with delight. Sometimes the nature of classes had a long and tiresome impact on me, but your kindness and understanding never left a bitter stain in my heart or mental focus. Your applause was so full and vibrant with a deserving standing ovation, and I hope you know how proud and honored I felt to be able to cheer. I have never told you or anyone this, but the frequency of seeing you, speaking with you, and listening to you made me silently see you as a father figure whom I respected so much. To me, you were like a father who cared so much to extend your attention and contact. You were like a father who always carried himself so humbly, kindly, and fairly. You were fair in my questions and feedback, and you were encouraging in your judgments. Thank you, Professor Hiroshi.
I am supposed to return to VIU again for another semester, and I truly was looking forward to seeing you again. How strange and painful it will be to not see you so frequently during my studies. My heart still hurts and I question my own resilience, but I can only imagine the deeper wound your family must feel in comparison to mine. It hurts to realize that they lost someone so great and so soon.
However, I do know now that seasons change, thus every winter has a spring. You have shown me that such springs do blossom greatly after long, cold winters. I hope you know that you and your own loved ones are in my thoughts, prayers, and my own personal motivations to not just do well in my future classes but also do good for the world. You are a great inspiration for many and light for future trailblazers. So for that, I will say a final thank you, and we love you, Professor Hiroshi.
VIU Staff: Cristina, Elena, Francesca, Hélène & Orla
We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Prof. Nishihara. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Prof. Nishihara’s family especially, and also to his colleagues, friends, and the many students around the world who enjoyed his teaching and were touched by his wisdom.
Forever in our memory.