The President’s address at the Graduation Ceremony for the 2016 Academic Year: “Soaring above the Birds”

Mar. 30, 2017

Congratulations on your graduation. Today is March 26, 2017. This day might not commemorate anything in particular for most people, but it will forever be enshrined in your memory as the day you graduated from Meiji University. So, while it may not be special for everyone, it will certainly be a special day on which all those who have been following your progress up until now will look back and fondly recall all your steps along the way. Those who knew you when you entered elementary school will be justly proud of you today, and this day will also become one that they will commemorate for the pleasure and good memories it brings them.

Meiji University, which you can now consider your alma mater, has been considered a youthful university ever since its foundation, some 136 years ago. The university was founded by three young lawyers who were themselves barely into their thirties. It was established as a private university with a liberal philosophy. Even today, Meiji University retains the spirit of youthfulness that the university has inherited. We remain forward-looking with a liberal and energetic outlook in our search for new knowledge. That energy in your university life will certainly support you in the future.

You will all go about your individual lives in society, probably working for a company or some other organization. In all likelihood, you will not want for much. Just over ten years ago, I got acquainted with a banker who was living in America. He had been in America for about 10 years, and was disposing of non-performing assets following the collapse of the bubble. He was handling the well-known golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. At one point, I asked him, “Global human resources have recently become topical, but what do global human resources mean to you?” He immediately answered, “Professor Tsuchiya, it’s all a matter of integrity.” Integrity refers to both honor and sincerity.
Even though someone speaks English fluently and gives a great presentation, no one will follow them if they are not sincere. Blindly following the Japanese head office’s intention is not enough to earn the trust of local employees in America. These employees must be dealt with honestly, and the decisions made must be your own. This is how one’s sincerity or integrity towards others is assessed.

Such sincerity towards others is almost lost in the modern world. Xenophobia and arrogant nationalism try to deny the diversity and liberal nature of the world. Barbaric opinions seek to eliminate different people by imposing national borders and severing relations. What we need is greater awareness that this world does not run on a single set of rules. There are many different opinions in the world, and we can only live in peace by bringing these diverse opinions together. It is not by becoming “fully integrated” that we will open up the future of the world, but rather by sustaining our diversity. As you step out into the world, the most important requirements are to acknowledge diversity and be sincere in your dealings with others. Indeed, you should treat others with the sincerity you would expect to receive. This is the world’s message to you.

To accomplish this, you need imagination about the rest of the world. This is the ability to think outside the box. The following quote comes from Shuji Terayama, one of modern Japan’s most iconic poets and producers: “No bird exists that can fly higher than your imagination. The finest attribute we humans have is the power of imagination.” Darwin said something similar: “Imagination is the most privileged ability of man. We can use this ability to create something new by combining unrelated images and thoughts that we already have.” I agree with this. Take a slightly different perspective on matters before us. Get new ideas from other people’s words. Reading books also helps. By taking a slightly different path from our own words or thoughts, we are able to see a different world. We can only survive in this world by dispensing with stereotypes and using our imagination to break down the conventions in Japan.

Today, you are all graduating from Meiji University. I hope you will all fly high. When you want to hover to take stock, think back on the time you spent at Meiji and recall your liberal youth, then your will regain the ability to take on any challenge. So, I say to everyone here: Good luck! I am sure you will have a good life. Even though you will face some difficulties, without doubt, someone will be there to help you. We must never despair in life. Even if we give up everything, there is still joy in living in this world. And you can always regain all that you lost. Having turned seventy, I think I can say that with some degree of confidence. So, let me say it one more time: Good luck... In everything you do! Congratulations on your graduation.


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