Congratulations on Graduating! (2017 Academic Year Graduation and Diploma Presentation Ceremony)

March 30, 2018

On Monday 26th March 2018, the 2017 graduation and diploma presentation ceremony was held in AGORA Global’s Prometheus Hall. In the morning ceremony, 16 students from the Faculty of Foreign Studies, and 347 students from the School of Language and Culture Studies were awarded their diplomas. In the afternoon ceremony, 336 students from the School of International and Area Studies, 112 students from the Master’s Program, and 10 students from the Doctoral program (Graduate School of Global Studies, Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies) were awarded their diplomas.
President Tateishi's Ceremonial Address

FY 2017 Graduation, Sessions 1 and 2
March 26, 2018
Congratulatory Message, TUFS President Hirotaka TATEISHI

As president of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the new graduates of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, the School of Language and Culture Studies, and the School of International and Area Studies. Many of you will be launching your careers from April first, while others have chosen to continue on to graduate study. Still others of you have acquired your master’s or doctorate degrees and are preparing to move on to new adventures.

While some of you in the Faculty of Foreign Studies, the School of Language and Culture Studies, and the School of International and Area Studies have had to go through an extra year because of taking time off to study abroad, most of you, I believe, began your four years of undergraduate study in April 2014. Do you remember what I said to you then?

At the 2014 entrance ceremony, I urged you to keep in mind the English name of our university, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Your task, I said, is to devote yourself to foreign studies so as to acquire the global knowledge required in all academic disciplines—from the humanities and social sciences to the natural and applied sciences—to tackle the problems confronting the global community of the twenty-first century. The problems of local societies and those of the global society are closely intertwined in a complexity that can only be unraveled by those with a truly comprehensive and global perspective.

It is my fervent hope that over these four or five years, you have acquired excellent language and communication skills and are fully prepared to unravel and comprehend the complex intricacies of contemporary society. I urge you, as global citizens, to put the global knowledge and skills you have acquired at TUFS to good use as you work to help solve the many problems confronting our global society.

As Japan’s population declines and our society becomes older, there is increasing talk of the urgent need for innovation in industry and technology. Unfortunately, innovation is becoming an end in itself, with little thought being given to the fundamental issue of how it will affect our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren. Personally, I see this as being connected to the tendency of contemporary Japanese society to downplay the importance of the humanities.

During the Second World War, there was a need for linguists and in April 1944, TUFS launched a three-year language training program under its new name of Tokyo Gaiji Senmon Gakko (Tokyo Professional School of Foreign Affairs). Many of the students who graduated from this program were immediately mobilized for the war effort. One of these students, Mannosuke Seta, wrote the following letter to his parents just two days before his death.

“Why is it our youth must be spent in such a miserable existence? It is unbearable that promising young people are being killed one after another.”

The lament is a painful truth we cannot deny.

Still, our school did its best through the dark years of the 1930s and early 1940s to defy the fearful trends by educating large numbers of students in the humanities. Let me give just one example. Nankichi Niimi, who is well-known for his children’s story titled Gongitsune (Gon, the Little Fox), studied English literature at TUFS from 1932 to 1936. His many writings over these four years remain fresh and vigorous to this day. One of my favorites is Dendenmushi no kanashimi (The snail’s sorrow), a children’s story written in May 1935. In this story, the snail laments, “Everyone has their sorrow. I am not the only one. I must bear my own sorrow alone.”

But as the war drags on even Niimi is caught in its shadow. We can see this reflected in another tale, Hirotta rappa (The lost bugle). A poor man decides he will go to war and return a hero. He sets off on his journey and one discovers a bugle lying in a field of trampled flowers. He blows the bugle in glee, calling to everyone to “come now, come all, to war we must go.” But the people in the villages have had enough of war. Their fields have been ruined and there is no food. Seeing this, the man decides to till the fields. This time his bugle call is “come now, come all, to plant the wheat, we must go.” The seeds he plants sprout and soon there are lush fields of wheat everywhere.

International politics is complicated. But as calls for “our nation first” echo around us, we must each and every one of us hold strong to the spirit of peace that is to be found in the humanities.

As you go out into the world and commence your careers, I hope to see you taking an intercultural approach to everything you undertake. You must value the country and culture of others just as much as you value your own country and culture. I truly hope to see you become global citizens who can transcend the barriers of nation and culture.

Finally, I have one request. The Tokyo University of Foreign Studies is now your alma mater. Please do not forget this institution where you spent your years of higher education. As a national university, we are charged with taking the lead in Japan’s globalization by educating and sending out into the world excellent linguists and globally knowledgeable human resources such as yourselves. We ask that you please join TUFS alumni association, Tokyo Gaigokai, and support its activities by contributing to the 150th Anniversary Fund and its goal of raising 1 billion yen by the year 2013.

Please try to visualize what the Tokyo University of Foreign Languages will be like in 2023. That will be the year marking 150 years since our founding in 1873. Hopefully, by this time, thanks to the generous financial and physical support of our alumni, we will have become a truly global university, an international hub for education in which Japanese students and exchange students from other countries overcome cultural differences to learn together in friendly competition. The university faculty and staff will work hard to achieve this end, and we hope that as new alumni, you will give us your support.

This concludes my speech. Congratulations and my best wishes for your future endeavors.

Thank you.

March 26, 2018 Congratulatory Message, TUFS President Hirotaka TATEISHI