Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

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Notes from the President

My message to new APU graduates

Mar 18, 2016

3rd President KORENAGA Shun

Congratulations, graduates.

Today is your last day on the hill. From here you leave the nest and become members of society. Many of you will start working. Some of you will pursue higher education. Others may pursue other dreams. Regardless of whether you remain in Japan or go overseas, you are about to enter a world that is more connected than ever before.

Through these connections it can often feel like we are surrounded by conflicts and complicated relationships, one short step away from a world ruled by violence and military power.

To navigate times like this, we need to return to basic human fundamentals. We need to value each individual, and to acknowledge that each life is precious. We need the wisdom to temper society, and a new sense of values to enable us to overcome ethnic, religious, and ideological differences. But how can we overcome these differences? How can we create relationships and coexist with other people?

First, you must have trust in and compassion for yourself and others. You will come to know that you are a precious being, as are other people. This awareness itself is very precious; it is the foundation of a global mindset. The ability to recognize differences, and the ability to show compassion for another person despite your differences – this global mindset is one we nurture and create here at APU.

I was in Beijing on a winter business trip several years ago. The television in my hotel was filled with stylish commercials for Japanese cars. Ads for Toyota, Lexus, Honda, and Nissan followed one after another, just like the headlights on the crowded city streets below. Looking out on that busy nighttime scene, it struck me that there had been protests on these streets just a few months earlier where a Toyota dealership was burned. In just a few months, however, it was like life in the city had turned from the chaos of protests to the vibrant chaos of normal life, in the same short time that autumn had turned to winter.

As I continued to look out my window at a city buzzing with activity, I was reminded of an economist who said that "the motivation for economic profit is prioritized over nationalism". While profit motivation might have priority over nationalism, I don't think that profit motivation can replace it. It does not matter how far the globalization of economic activity spreads, until we change our collective consciousness there will always be a sense of nationalism when there are questions of territory or national identities.

So how can we move toward a new consciousness and sense of values that emphasizes peaceful coexistence? We need to recognize the other person's existence and be respectfully aware of any differences. To put it another way, we should be compassionate and aware that there are people who are different from ourselves. To have a dialogue with others based on this compassionate awareness is truly a globally-minded act that we can exercise; a creative act that is very much needed in our world.

Two years ago, the Japanese Government selected thirty-seven institutions of higher learning to be part of the Top Global University Project. As a pioneer of international education in Japan, APU stands as one of these institutions. Last year, APU was named in an economic publication as one of twenty universities competing at a global level. This is not only the result of the effort of our staff and faculty who are working to create a global university that represents Japan; this is also the result of the commendable achievements of APU alumni as they play active roles all over the world. Our staff and faculty believe that APU and our alumni, through our principles of freedom, peace, and humanity, will unlock the future of the Asia Pacific region.

Today you leave the classroom and become members of society. As you enter the world as alumni of APU, may you also uphold and live these principles.

Once more, congratulations on your graduation.



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