Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

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Notes from the President

My message to new APU graduates (Spring 2021 Graduation Ceremony)

Mar 19, 2021

Congratulatory Address from the Acting President

First, I would like to congratulate all the students on your graduation. You have made it to this day thanks to the support and encouragement of many people, including your classmates, friends, upperclassmen and underclassmen, staff, faculty, the people you met on off-campus programs and study abroad, and your bosses and co-workers at your places of employment. You were exposed to many cultures on APU’s global campus, and you overcame obstacles and doubts as you pursued your studies and research in globally oriented majors. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the guardians and families of today’s graduating class for supporting their studies. Please accept my sincerest congratulations on behalf of everyone at APU.

In the final year of your time at APU, we witnessed a global pandemic—a rare occurrence in human history. I’m sure you faced many inconveniences and anxieties, but you were able to continue your studies at APU while connecting with your friends scattered around the world, and you provided each other with encouragement as you headed towards graduation. I have nothing but the deepest respect for your resilience, or in other words, your ability to withstand adversity.

On this occasion of your graduation, I would like to leave you with three parting messages.

First, I would like you to lead moral lives. To do this, you need “character,” and this is something you create yourselves. In your lives that lie ahead of you, your character will be determined by what you think, what you feel, and the actions you decide to take. I hope you will constantly think about whether your words, actions, and attitudes are those which you can be proud of. Just because an action isn’t breaking the law or will not be noticed by others does not make it right. The things you learned in elementary school—have courage, face your troubles head on, be honest, be loyal, and empathize with others—are truly meaningful once you become an adult and put them into practice.

Second, I would like you to become people who can take action. Recently, we are starting to hear the word “self-efficacy” more often. It means believing that you have the ability to take measures to generate the outcomes you desire. In a government survey conducted in 2014, only 52% of Japanese youth replied “yes” to the statement “I am willing to engage in something even if I’m not sure of the outcome,” compared to 71% of South Koreans and 79% of Americans. In another survey from 2018, 61% of high school students in Japan agreed “I think I can do mostly anything if I apply myself” compared to 73% in South Korea, 85% in China, and 86% in the United States. So, how do you rate your own self-efficacy? Given that APU students tend to be willing to take initiative, APU formulated its 2030 Vision with the slogan: “APU graduates possess the power to change our world.” As you lead your lives trying to realize your dreams, I hope you will do just that.

Third, I would like you to value everyone you meet. APU has developed one of the most diverse university campuses in the world. Students from many different countries and regions who have different cultures, customs, and religions come to study at APU. Based on the premise that APU students are diverse in culture and opinion, your experience learning to accept each other as individuals belonging to the same community is extremely valuable because our campus is the future of the world. I hope you will cherish this experience and value all the people you meet in your lives going forward. At the same time, I hope you will treasure the friendships you made at APU.

Today is the day when you stop being APU students and become APU alumni. Your activities as alumni will serve to enrich APU as a university, and this process of enrichment will, in turn, support your career development. In this sense, you will all remain members of the APU family.

In closing, I am sure you are all very worried about President Deguchi, who is currently recovering from an illness. I have been told that he is making every effort to resume his duties by the summer. Together, let us all pray for his speedy recovery.

I wish you all lives full of happiness in whatever you choose to do. Once again, congratulations on your graduation.

Hiroshi Yoneyama
Vice President / Acting President
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
March 19, 2021



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