In the year 2020, APU celebrates the first 20 years since its foundation
Message from the President
President of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Trustee, Vice-Chancellor of the Ritsumeikan Trust Deguchi Haruaki
With its mission to cultivate global leaders who can contribute to creating the future of the Asia Pacific region, APU was founded in April 2000 with extensive support from Oita Prefecture, Beppu City, and stakeholders from around the globe.
In 2020, APU will celebrate its 20th anniversary. As we approach this landmark year, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported APU over the years.
In 2015, APU formulated the APU2030 Vision, which boldly proclaims that "APU graduates possess the power to change our world." This means that students who head to every corner of the globe to find places where they can pursue their aspirations and interests have “the power to change the world” by thinking things through and taking action, all while using what they have learned at APU. The core tenet of the APU2030 Vision is to produce change agents. With 10 years to go until 2030, 2020 is an important year. As we strive to achieve the APU2030 Vision, we want this year to be a milestone in enhancing APU’s profile in the world, and this will require us to cooperate closely and align ourselves with all of our stakeholders, including current students, alumni, and people from the local community. A project team is already taking action toward new endeavors centered on the establishment of a tourism college.
I would like to celebrate APU’s 20th anniversary together with our globally active alumni, the students currently studying at APU, our faculty and staff, the local residents of Oita Prefecture and Beppu City, the families of our students and alumni throughout the world, future APU students, and those who support APU in so many ways. I look forward to working with you to make APU an even more fun and exciting place to learn and a place that everyone holds dear in their hearts.
Our original mission of cultivating global leaders who can contribute to creating the future of the Asia Pacific region remains unchanged and will remain unchanged as we go forward. We will continue rising to the challenge, and I ask for your continued support for APU as we go into the future.
The story of APU
Message from Former Presidents
On the 20th Anniversary of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) opened its doors 20 years ago in April 2000. It was built in Jumonjibaru, an area of grassy hills where no one had ever lived before, in the city of Beppu in Oita Prefecture. The university started from a blank slate, with no prior history. That April, the first class of spring enrollees, consisting of around 700 students from 35 countries and regions, was admitted to APU. The admission of that first cohort marks the start of APU’s history. Over the past 20 years, APU has grown into a global university that regularly attracts approximately 6,000 young people from 90 countries and regions around the world.
The Ritsumeikan Trust established APU in close cooperation with Oita Prefecture and Beppu City to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ritsumeikan Academy. APU was Japan’s first truly international university. Aiming to make international contributions suitable for the coming era while breaking new ground in the internationalization of Japanese universities, it was founded on the basic concept that half of its student body, or 400 students per academic year (now 660 per year), would be students from overseas (called “international students” at APU).
At APU, every aspect of the university, including educational programs, language of instruction, the faculty makeup, and campus infrastructure, was designed based on this premise that half of the student body would always be international students.
In the late 1990s when the idea for this new university was presented to both internal and external stakeholders, some evaluated the aspirations of the plan positively, but others said it might be difficult to realize such a concept in one fell swoop, or more frankly, they felt the plan was reckless.
Detailed preparations for the opening of APU began in 1995, but the atmosphere both inside and outside the Academy was a challenging mix of aspirations with difficulties and concerns. In late 1997, the financial crisis that struck Asia, which accounted for the majority of Japan’s international students, plunged the future of the APU project into even more uncertainty.
Amid this backdrop, when APU first opened, some of the students who chose to come here faced opposition from their high school teachers, who told them they had no chance of finding a job after graduation, as well as their parents. It was a trying time for them. However, rooted in the “We Can Do It!” slogan of that first cohort, the university has stood the test of time and overcome many obstacles to become what it is today. This would not have been possible without those students who had the courage and self-confidence to choose APU because they believed in the coming era of the Asia Pacific.
Management scholar Peter Drucker once said, "the best way to predict the future is to create it,” and this is what I told the incoming students at the first entrance ceremony in April 2000.
When I think about all the hard work that the students have invested in helping APU grow, the kind faces of the local residents of Beppu who watched these students grow and supported them always come to mind. As the head of APU when it first opened, I was worried about whether the local residents and students from all over the world could get along well, but that fear was unwarranted. Now I see APU students who, having acclimated to life in Beppu in Oita Prefecture, display a strong interest in community development and are trying to make their community a better place. No matter where these students end up in the world, they keep a special place in their hearts for Beppu and APU.
The local community helps cultivate students, who in turn invigorate the community. In doing this, students gain the ability to change the world. What we see here is an ideal, forward-looking picture of how a university and its students can coexist with the local community. For me, this is both reassuring and a source of pride.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a dark cloud over the entire world. Soon, however, this dark cloud will be swept away by the ingenuity and efforts of humankind, and people will start to create a new post-coronavirus society. With an eye on this new era, now is the time for all APU students and all APU alumni to hone and develop their skills. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck.
Founding President, January 2000–March 2004
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
The Appeal and Reputation of APU
―In Commemoration of APU’s 20th Anniversary―
APU is located in Beppu City in Oita Prefecture on the beautiful southern island of Kyushu, Japan. APU’s location on a hill overlooking the sea and the city of Beppu, a prime destination for international tourists, is an important element that contributes to its reputation as a university that is open to the community. The spectacular bird's-eye view of this unique university from the Jumonjibaru plateau is nothing less than the symbol of APU’s irreplaceability. Although APU is far from the capital, this distance is what has helped the university maintain its independence as a unique institution.
The very existence of APU is directly linked to the universal values of humankind. In today's society, there is an increasing trend of people alienating those who are different than themselves, through such means as discrimination, sowing division, and hostility. COVID-19 has aroused a fundamental fear for survival in the consciousness of modern humans, driving many towards this alienating behavior. Universities are under pressure to review their learning and living spaces by putting systems in place to prevent the epidemic from spreading and devising flexible rules for interpersonal contact. While offering online classes, universities will likely strengthen the significance of their campuses as focal points and symbols of belonging. To counter a virus that can be transmitted anywhere and at any time, we must be aware of the need to protect ourselves while also understanding that we are all fighting the same battle. This understanding that we are “all in the same boat” constitutes the fundamental awareness of the coexistence of humanity. It is the recognition of each other's existence as human beings as well as the recognition of the freedom of the human spirit and the dignity of human existence. This counteracts discrimination and division and ties directly to the universal value of freedom that all human beings seek. This is also the embodiment of the founding philosophy of APU, and one could say that the existence of APU itself is a source of hope for human society. In the end, the globalization of capital for the sake of profit not only failed to overcome narrow-minded nationalism, it also triggered a hegemonic economic order and a global viral pandemic. What we should pursue the most now is the globalization of human consciousness, which demands the freedom of the human spirit and presents an ideal toward which we should strive as human beings. This is the only way to realize peaceful coexistence based on international law. In order to overcome the discrimination that fuels division and the oppression that tramples human freedom, the world needs truly global citizens equipped with an awareness of humanity.
The appeal of APU, at its core, lies in the places where education occurs, where students and faculty members of various nationalities engage with an advanced world-class curriculum, which includes internationally accredited programs, in the fields of the humanities and social sciences. At APU, the act of confirming and discovering universal human value creates a strong magnetic field and sends a message to the world. It is in the classrooms, the messages from the faculty, and the passion of the students that the meaning of the university's existence is revealed. And also, at the Grand Finale of each Multicultural Week festival, on the stage where the diversity and energy of APU is on full display, a song in praise of being human rings out, beckoning students the world over to make their way to APU. Hail to APU!
3rd President of APU, January 2010 - December 2017
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
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- The concept of the 20th Anniversary Logo
This logo utilizes an arrow motif. It symbolizes the individuals that come to APU and graduate as people that can succeed across the world.
- The concept of the 20th Anniversary Catchphrase
This catchphrase expresses how APU, building on the last 20 years, will continue to evolve and build a long history.