Mar 13, 2015
First, let me congratulate all of you here on your graduation from APU. Today, you step out in to the world as full-fledged members of society. I sincerely hope that you will rise up to every challenge and lead a rich and fulfilling life.
There are nearly 800 universities in Japan. Last year, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology selected APU as one of 30 Top Global University funding recipients. I believe we were selected based on our achievements over the past 15 years as well as on our plans for the future. This funding will last for 10 years, and over that time, we will not only raise APU's profile as Japan's foremost international university, but also we will aim to become one of the top 30 universities in Asia.
Higher education is becoming increasingly available in a global 'free market', which means universities must clearly identify the meaning and value of their existence. With a lofty mission of 'Freedom, Peace and Humanity', APU is an international university focusing on social science that prides itself on its diverse campus located in a technologically advanced nation. In terms of size, APU is not a large oceangoing vessel, but a nimble, high performance yacht, and it is about to embark on a voyage to the upper echelons of global higher education. Take a look at the APU logo. Doesn't it look like a cabin cruiser or a sailboat cutting boldly through the waves?
This February, I spent two days discussing the future vision of APU with a group of approximately 70 alumni, students, faculty and staff. Alumni from 20 different countries, some as far away as Tonga, India, Mongolia and Myanmar, joined in this discussion. I believe the alumni and the global networks they form are treasures for both APU and the alumni. Together, we discussed the ideal picture of APU in 10 and 20 years in the future as well as what we should do now to draw closer to that ideal. Many concrete proposals were raised, including overseas internships, support for entrepreneurs, alumni assisting students at their alma mater and partnerships with international organizations. The alumni displayed a strong affection for APU, but their criticisms were sharp. Witnessing first-hand their can-do spirit and desire to change, I felt that the future of APU, where alumni will serve as educational partners and bridges between our campus and the world, had begun on this day.
The world is becoming increasingly uncertain, violent and destructive. We must learn from human history. We must realize that APU's mission of 'Freedom, Peace and Humanity' is one of the universal truths that humans have come to understand, and we must rely on this universal truth as we face up to violence and destruction. It is foolish to think that the values held by any one religion or one political ideology are absolute. Why do we have trouble accepting and respecting others for who they are? What transcends ethnic and religious differences is respect for human dignity and mutual understanding. The diversity of APU, where people can accept each other, creates new value. Respecting diversity and human dignity is the spirit of APU, and this spirit can save the world from chaos. I hope that you will lead long and fulfilling lives with the spirit of APU in your hearts.
News article for the 2015 APU Spring Graduation Ceremony