2019 Spring Commencement Ceremony

Update: March 25, 2019

504 undergraduate students and 24 graduate students graduated from ICU at its spring commencement ceremony held at the University Chapel on Friday, 22 March.

At the ceremony, each student's name was read out in keeping with tradition that has continued since the first commencement ceremony. Students whose names were called received their diplomas - the fruit of four years of learning - on stage and shook hands with President Junko Hibiya.

During the ceremony, the Friends of ICU Award was presented to Professor Hiroshi Suzuki (major: mathematics) and Mr. Yusuke Yasuda (class of 2008), in recognition of their exemplary contribution to fulfilling ICU's mission.

Professor Suzuki has held a weekly Bible study session in his campus home from the time of his arrival at ICU in 1993 right up until just before his retirement in 2019, and, in so doing, not only did he provide a practical example of Liberal Arts education through dialogue with students, but he also shared his home with students to explore the fundamentals of Christianity, the founding principle of ICU. Through his personality and his resolute Christian faith, he exercised a profound influence on many, serving as both a source of moral compass and as a harbinger of hope. This long-standing attitude of assiduous and devoted service towards realization of this fundamental goal has provided a shining example to the ICU community and is deserving of commendation.

Under the slogan "creating a society where constant repetition is encouraged", Mr. Yasuda has not only established his private tuition cram school for those wishing to re-enter the education sector and offer valuable teaching there; in collaboration with a group of supporters, he has also promoted an initiative to strengthen the roots of social support with the objective of eradicating disparity in educational opportunities amongst children. With unstinting resolve, his positive approach has provided encouragement and vitality to others and his success in embodying the spirit of ICU is deserving of commendation. We look forward to the continued and ongoing development of these activities and their increased impact on society.

Commencement Address by Junko Hibiya, President


I would like to extend my congratulations to all those graduates of the College of Liberal Arts who have received their bachelor's degrees, and to those Graduate School students who went on to further study and received their master's and doctoral degrees. Permit me to offer my heartfelt greetings to the graduates' families, relatives and friends.

Last summer, it was reported that the 2016 Japanese life expectancy is 81.09 for men and 87.26 for women, setting a new record. Life expectancy, widely used as an indicator to gauge the level of health, sanitation and welfare, is a statistical measure of the average time a person born in that year is expected to live. The first survey of measure life expectancy in Japan was conducted, based on the data of eight years, from 1891 to 1898; it was then 42.8 for men and 44.3 for women then. Japanese have come to live much longer over the past 120 plus years. For your information, it was 77.01 for men and 83.59 for women in 1996 when 276 out of the 504 who graduated from the College of Liberal Arts today were born.

World Health Statistics compiled by WHO reports the life expectancy of 194 member countries and regions. The World Health Statistics series, published annually since 2005, has been monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While SDG 3 "good health and well-being" explicitly focuses on health, other goals such as "zero hunger," "gender equity," "clean water and sanitation," "climate action," and "peace, justice and strong institutions" are also concerned with life expectancy and health issues.

At the UN Assembly held in summer 2017, 232 indicators to monitor 17 goals and 169 targets were adopted. For example, to monitor the second target of SDG 3 "By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under 5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births," neonatal mortality rate and under-five mortality rate are set. In 2016, the former was 0.9 per 1,000 while the latter 2.7 per 1,000 in Japan. Along with 37 countries and regions such as Australia, China, Fiji, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Micronesia, Republic of Korea, Tonga and Viet Nam, Japan belongs to the WHO Western Pacific Region, one of the six regional groupings. It ranked first of these 37 as far as the neonatal mortality rate, as well as the under-five mortality. On the other hand, the two indicators for the fourth target, "By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non- communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being", the mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease and suicide mortality rate, Japan ranked second for the former whereas second from the bottom at 18.5 person per 100,000 for the latter.

In addition to these four, there are various indicators related to life expectancy; maternal mortality, mortality rate attributed to unsafe water, unsafe sanitation and lack of hygiene, road traffic mortality, mortality due to air pollution, tobacco use among persons aged 15 years and older, number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population, the number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, conflict-related deaths per 100 000 population, to name a few. Furthermore, healthy life expectancy published by WHO since 2000 is also important. It is defined as the average number of years that a person can expect to live independently without relying on daily and continuous medical treatment and care. Needless to say, a transdisciplinary approach is indispensable to improve the rates/numbers of the adopted indicators, accomplish the goals and targets and to lengthen healthy life expectancy

Today I have shared with you the current state of life expectancy. The world ahead of you is full of many other problems to be solved. More challenges will certainly emerge. A bachelor's degree granted to you today attests that each of you has attained the ability to bring together diverse knowledge stemming from the fields of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, Japanese and English language skills, critical thinking, the ability to solve problems, and writing skills. At ICU you have become an intentional learner who is able to plan your own path for creative study. Those of you who received Master's or Doctoral degrees have acquired deep scholarship and the ability to conduct research in your field. I strongly encourage you to use these abilities wisely and generously to tackle boldly the numerous problems the world faces. By doing so, treasures will be stored up in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

May God bless you all.

World health statistics 2018

SDGs: Indiators

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