Mar 27, 2019
Inaugural President of APU (2000-2004)
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. It started from a blank slate with no prior history. That April, the first class, 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. In the past 20 years, APU has grown into a global university that regularly attracts 6,000 young people from 90 countries and regions around the world, including Japan.
When APU first opened, some of the students who chose to come here faced opposition from their high school teachers and parents. 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 first students who had the courage and pride 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.” 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 put into helping APU grow, what always comes to mind are the kind faces of the local residents of Beppu who have watched these students grow and supported them. As the head of APU when it first opened, I was worried about whether the local residents and international students could get along well, but that fear was unfounded. Now I see APU students who, having acclimated to life in Beppu in Oita Prefecture, display a keen interest in community development and strive to make it 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 have a desire to keep returning to Beppu, and keep returning to APU.
The local community helps cultivate students, who in turn, contribute to its development. In doing this, students gain the ability to change society. 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.
I hope you will join me in continuing to support APU.