2017 Spring Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President
Update: April 3, 2017
First year undergraduate and graduate students, welcome to ICU. Congratulations to family members, relatives, and friends who are viewing this ceremony on the screen at Diffendorfer Memorial Hall.
International Christian University, which you entered today, was established on June 15, 1949, when Japanese and North American Christian leaders convened at the Gotemba YMCA Camp, in Shizuoka. With the inauguration of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Councillors, the founding principles and a fundamental educational plan were laid down. The Gotemba Conference finally realized the aspirations of those who had worked hard on the planning, from the fall of 1945, just weeks after the end of World War II.
The fund to purchase this campus land for a new university was raised on both sides of the Pacific. This is the land upon which you will study, engage in extracurricular activity and, for those who reside in a dormitory, conduct your daily lives.
On the American side, various Christian churches, those connected to foreign mission boards, and many individuals, made outstanding efforts. On the Japanese side, Governor Hisato Ichimata of the Bank of Japan took charge as president of the supporters' association. A campaign of unprecedented scale began, involving the political, economic and academic sectors of the country. Those who responded positively to this call were not simply leaders in these sectors but countless ordinary people despite the poor and desperate condition of life in the immediate post-war years. According to the records, elementary school children donated ten or twenty yen instead of buying candy, and students of another university offered 100 yen each, money they had earned from their part-time jobs. As a result, the amount raised reached its target of 150,000,000 yen on July 20, 1950. In the next summer, it was announced that the amount totaled 160,000,000 yen. With this ICU purchased our campus grounds in Mitaka. In April 1953, the first class matriculated and these new students were each introduced to the congregation exactly like today.
Were those who contributed to establish an interdenominational Christian university in Japan Christians themselves? No, they were not. As many as ninety five percent of those who donated, in every corner of Japan, were non-Christians. Despite the poverty and dire circumstances after the war, they supported the purpose of a new university to cultivate capable individuals, who would serve both God and people, who would contribute zealously to lasting peace, and made their contribution with the highest expectations. We know not whether these individuals were familiar with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," but what they did coincided perfectly with the Jesus's words. Could they have done what they did if they had not believed in these words? Alas, people think it is more blessed to receive than to give and it is human nature to feel the happiness of the gift from others. It is, however, the act of giving that brings us true joy. Today's scripture reading enjoins each of us to perform our duties faithfully, to expect no reward, and to give generously.
You will take the "Student Pledge," shortly. This has also been a noble tradition since the university's, first matriculation ceremony. You will sign a pledge to uphold the principles of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in 1948. We trust that you will spend your days here abiding by this declaration. The first article of the declaration states, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." However, the reality is that the world around us teems with antagonism and animosity. The actions of human beings whom, we believe to be endowed with reason and conscience, indeed seem far from the spirit of brotherhood.
Today, I have shared with you the history of ICU. This institution was created through good will of countless people. Entering such a school, you are urged to meet the expectations and prayers of those who contributed to its founding. The next few years will be period in which you will, undoubtedly, give serious thought to what you personally should do to realize a world where everyone's dignity and rights are respected and in which human beings act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Always remember that, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Discover your own calling through your studies, through extracurricular activities and in fellowship with friends, faculty and staff on this campus. May the years ahead of you be fruitful.