NEWS

2019 Summer Commencement Ceremony

Update: July 1, 2019

124 undergraduate students and 34 graduate students graduated from ICU at its summer commencement ceremony held at the University Chapel on Friday, 28 June.

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.

Also during the ceremony, a certificate indicating conferral of the title of Professor Emeritus was presented to Professor Hiroshi Suzuki, Mikitoshi Isozaki, Naoki Onishi, Norie Takazawa, Richard L. Wilson, and Yasuyo Moriya who became a professor emeritus on April 1, 2019.

Commencement Address by Junko Hibiya, President

Commencement190628_127_hibiya.jpg

Luke Chapter 12, Verse 48b
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

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, who are with us today.

On March 15, in recognition of his life-long career of public service and his contribution to mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, International Christian University awarded Senator John Davison Rockefeller, IV with an honorary doctoral degree. While he was a student at Harvard, he studied Japanese at ICU for three years from 1957. Dr. Edwin Reischauer was instrumental in deciding the destination of his study abroad adventure. In his remarks at the awarding ceremony held at the Old Ambassador's Residence of the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Senator described ICU as "the first educational institution of its kind in Japan that encouraged diversity while requiring that one could not graduate without being bilingual and speaking Japanese." According to him, the professors of the Japanese Language Program sixty years ago were so ruthless that he had to get up at 4:30 every morning to learn Kanji. Otherwise he would not have survived the program which was famous (or maybe infamous?) for its rigor. What made his life exceptionally hard was the fact that most if not all of his classmates were Hong Kong Chinese on scholarships from the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. To compete with his peers who had a head start, he was obliged to make extra tireless efforts. Since those days, ICU has stayed true to its founding principle and offers a fully bilingual education in Japanese and English. To this day, no one can graduate from the College of Liberal Arts without studying Japanese; graduate students are also encouraged to learn Japanese. Many of today's graduates, coming from diverse geographical, cultural and educational backgrounds, may easily relate to him, walking through more or less the same path as the Senator although I suspect that the number of those who got up at 4:30 every morning to study may not be many. At any rate, I hope that you, like Senator Rockefeller, have developed the habit of mind to appreciate the hard work. That will certainly help you in life beyond ICU.

Studying the language was not the only factor that drove Senator Rockefeller to come to the Far East. More importantly, he wanted to challenge himself by changing the order and rhythm of his life. Permit me to quote from what he said in a documentary of his life produced in 2015 by West Virginia Public Broadcasting that epitomizes his motivation. "My reason for going to Japan was that I wanted to get out of what I thought I might become if I stayed at Harvard. Putting yourself in hard situations, tough situations, where you have to survive by your wits, and study the language over a period of three years. I got good at Japanese. I went to farms of my roommates, which had been in their families for thirty generations, and began to understand what a long, committed history of hard work and hardship brings to people. It was a very personal experience for me, a very deep experience, it was the beginning to putting me on the track to public service." After living in East Grove on campus for a while, the Senator chose to move to a geshuku in Koganei with other ICU undergraduate students. Given family background and upbringing, coping with simple conditions where he could not live in comfort was doubtlessly a challenge. After his graduation from Harvard upon his return to the United States, he spent a few years in the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. as well as in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in the small mining community of Emmons in southern West Virginia. Following the Peace Corps and VISTA, he started to dedicate himself to the state. From 1967 to 1984, he served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, as the West Virginia Secretary of States, as the President of West Virginia Wesleyan College and as the Governor of West Virginia. He eventually became a Senator from West Virginia with his tenure lasting for five terms from 1985 to 2015. Throughout his many years of public service, the Senator never stopped his fight to bring social justice to those living in impoverished conditions.

Always feeling close to the country where he spent his late adolescence, the Senator also has long been eager to build and promote strong ties between Japan and the United States, in particular, West Virginia. A state office, set up in Nagoya, under his leadership as Governor, came to fruition with the establishment of Wheeling-Nisshin in 1986 as the first State investment project by a Japanese company. This was followed by that of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia in Buffalo a decade later in 1996. Many more Japanese companies followed them to make investments in the state. As a result of a series of expansions by Toyota, today the plant that started with 300 employees has grown into its only combined engine and transmission plant in North America with more than 1,600 team members. It is one of the largest industrial venture in West Virginia in over a half century. The Senator once said that "Bringing Toyota to West Virginia is truly one of the proudest moments of my career." When Aichi Prefecture hosted the World Expo in 2005, he strongly encouraged support from the State of West Virginia and led an American delegation to attend the event.

Everyone would agree with me that Senator Rockefeller is one of those "to whom much has been given," as well as "to whom much has been entrusted." His distinguished life devoted to public service and to committed efforts to foster human exchange between the citizens of his country and Japan are exemplary of the noble act of giving more than what has been required and demanded of one.

Now you leave ICU, embarking on a new life. All of those who are assembled here today have had the good fortune to be enrolled in a university while many in the world are still forced to abandon their hope of receiving higher education or in worse cases even secondary or elementary education. Whether you are aware or not, much has already been given to you. Being blessed enough to continue your studies to this day, much is required of you. Someday, much will be entrusted to you and even more will be demanded of you.

In this address, I have shared with you how a few years spent in Japan, at ICU in particular, have impacted on Senator Rockefeller. It will be my genuine pleasure if your life will also be changed in positive ways by your experiences here. I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting a few sentences from the Senator's statement at the awarding ceremony in March. "My experience at ICU encompassed me to think internationally and taught me that the United States is part of a larger world. That influence has continued to this day. It was my first experience with another country, and it broadened my horizons and played a huge role in my life progression. It opened thoughts of a life of public service to me, and for that I am eternally grateful." I hope that ICU has helped those for whom Japan is your first experience abroad to broaden your horizon. I hope that ICU has assisted those who came here with previous experience in another country to make a more comprehensive sense of who you are by triangulating your position. And I hope that ICU has encouraged those who are yet to experience another country to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world. May God bless you all.

Page top