Governor of Oita Prefecture
Mr. HIROSE Katsusada
Congratulations to all of you who are beginning your studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely welcome all of you and your families to the APU community, whether you are here in Japan or somewhere else in the world.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of APU. Since its inception, the university has striven to provide high-quality education and research, and as a result, it has chalked up a stellar track record as a leader in the globalization of higher education in Japan. In the “Japan University Rankings 2020” published by the British higher education journal Times Higher Education in March 2020, APU received particularly high marks in the categories of Engagement and Environment. It was the fifth highest ranking private university in Japan and ranked number one among private universities in western Japan for the third year in a row. APU has always been a part of the community. By assisting with the teaching of intercultural understanding and English at elementary and junior high schools throughout the prefecture and participating in local events, APU has been a strong partner in the internationalization and revitalization of Oita Prefecture.
I am certain that you will make lasting friendships and learn many things over the next several years as you study in APU’s multicultural environment, which attracts students from around 90 countries and regions and where you are always exposed to the latest trends in the world. Please cherish the friendships you make and use the knowledge and experience you gain at APU to make your dreams come true.
I hope you will take an interest in what Oita has to offer, from its abundant natural beauty and history to its culture and unique local foods, as you develop connections with the prefecture. I also hope that Oita will become your second home and that, one day, you will serve as bridges between people and regions as well as between Oita and the wider world.
In closing, I would like to wish you all the best the luck, and I pray for the continued prosperity of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
Mayor of Beppu City
Mr. NAGANO Yasuhiro
On behalf of the citizens of Beppu, I would like to congratulate you on your admission to Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of APU, which was opened in 2000 with the mission of “cultivating global leaders who can contribute to creating the future of the Asia Pacific region.” Since then, it has developed a strong reputation as an international university open to the local community, and it has produced numerous graduates who are now active around the globe.
Unfortunately, it has been an extremely trying year for Beppu and APU as well as the entire world. I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to all the students and parents who were unable to come to Japan due to the novel coronavirus pandemic or who lost the opportunity to do so due to financial hardship. We at City Hall are taking every measure to prevent the spread of infections so that you can begin your lives as students in Beppu as soon as possible.
In less than a year, the format of learning and the view of what is “normal” have changed drastically. Amid this backdrop, how we act as people and societies in this world is being called into question. This novel coronavirus pandemic, unlike past wars and economic crises, has revealed what it is that makes a leader, the importance of scientific viewpoints, and the difficulty of identifying correct information.
Learning at APU is meaningful not because you can encounter a diverse array of values and become fluent in a foreign language, but because you can develop yourself into an individual equipped with a universal perspective who can survive in a difficult environment while gaining exposure to the diversity of the world.
With the sharp decline in the number of tourists coming to Beppu, the city faces a dire situation, and we are searching for ways to overcome this difficulty by conceiving and implementing original ideas. I hope you will share your ideas with us as we work together to rebuild Beppu into a vibrant city that attracts people from all over the world.
In closing, let me express my hope for the continued success of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and for the health and happiness of its students and stakeholders.
Chancellor, The Ritsumeikan Trust
To all those entering APU for the first time today, congratulations. Congratulations also to those who have completed their undergraduate degrees and today move on to continue their studies at graduate school.
As the Chancellor of the Ritsumeikan Trust, I extend a warm welcome and sincere congratulations to each and every one of you.
I am sure that new students, their families and associates have all looked forward to this day. A university matriculation ceremony is a special occasion: a moment to meet new friends and most importantly, to mark the start of your studies in undergraduate or graduate school programs.
This year, we made the painful decision to conduct the fall matriculation ceremony in a reduced format in light of the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus. I sincerely regret the fact that our faculty and staff members and current students cannot meet with you today as they would in ordinary years. Please understand that this decision was made in order to give utmost priority to the safety and security of attendees and to the prevention of the spread of the virus.
As you start your life at university full of dreams and hopes, I am sure you also have many concerns. This would be especially true for international students. Movement across national borders has been severely restricted, and even APU – which brings together such a diverse range of students that it is known as a United Nations of young people – was forced to institute campus access restrictions in the spring semester. But regardless of the circumstances we face, the university is committed to providing you with all the support possible to enable you to design your university life soundly and without losing sight of your goals.
This year, APU celebrates its 20th anniversary. APU has taken the lead in globalization of universities in Japan under its basic ideals of “Freedom, Peace and Humanity,” “International Mutual Understanding,” and “Creating the Future Shape of the Asia Pacific Region.” The 2014 selection of APU, alongside Ritsumeikan University, for the Top Global Universities project can be seen as a product of the high esteem in which APU is held for taking on the challenge of achieving the “Three 50” targets set at the time of the university’s establishment: 50% international students, 50% international faculty, and students from at least 50 different countries and regions.
The major decline in mobility of people and goods resulting from the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has been a setback to global cooperation and solidarity, not only in economic terms, but across all spheres of life. This situation has led to heightened interest in the idea of a resilient and sustainable society. Particular attention is focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Established by the United Nations in 2015, the SDGs are a set of 17 goals in the areas of peace, health, climate, diversity, energy, and other challenges shared across the global community, which are to be achieved by 2030. I believe that the SDG spirit of seeking solutions through international partnership and coordination is gaining support today precisely because the pandemic threatens to destroy the cohesion of society and the global community. The SDG ideals give shape to the Ritsumeikan Charter’s commitment to “promote peace, democracy and sustainable development in Japan and throughout the world.” APU too is working proactively on the SDGs, and the APU2030 Vision commits to fostering “global citizens who will build a peaceful world by understanding and accepting cultural and historical differences.” The aim is to produce people who can create new forms of value out of diverse perspectives and ideas under chaotic conditions. At APU we call such people “individuals who can change the world.”
I believe that a university’s place in wider society is to shed light on the problems facing society and to contribute proactively to their resolution. An “individual who can change the world” is someone who tackles challenges shared across the world through academic endeavor, through extracurricular activities, and through daily life. I hope that you too will look out to the society and world around you and think about your relationship with society. This will lead you to consider questions about what to learn in university and how to contribute to society, and ultimately to change society and the future.
One way to change society is through entrepreneurship. In April last year, Ritsumeikan established an SDGs Promotion Headquarters as a means of further strengthening its work on the SDGs and other social challenges. One of the activities of this new organization is the Ritsumeikan Social Entrepreneurship Support Platform, called RIMIX, which supports those establishing new ventures for the resolution of social problems. Working together with consulting firms, venture capital funds, and other partners, this platform refines the ideas of university and school students to a level at which they can be launched as business ventures. In the President Pitch Challenge held in January this year, students from APU too presented their ambitious proposals to the President. APU also fosters entrepreneurship through an extracurricular initiative called the APU Startup Program known as the Deguchi School. Entrepreneurship could be said to be a way of putting into practice students’ ideas on how they can engage with wider society. By all means consider taking up the entrepreneurship challenge yourselves.
Encountering others is a kind of miracle. I am genuinely delighted to have encountered each and every one of you, and I wish you all the best for the future. I hope that through your studies at APU, you will empower yourselves to open up new possibilities for your own lives and for the future.
Congratulations to you all.