Congratulations on your graduation! (Graduation Ceremony in March, 2024)

March 22, 2024

On Friday 22th March 2024, the 2023 graduation and diploma presentation ceremony was held in AGORA Global Prometheus Hall.

285 students from the School of Language and Culture Studies, 299 students from the School of International and Area Studies, 66 students from the School of Japan Studies, 110 master’s students and 17 doctoral students graduated and received their degrees.

TUFS President Ceremony Address (For Undergradutes)

Everybody, congratulations on your graduation. This year a total of 650 students are graduating from the three undergraduate departments. Of those, 254 entered in 2020 and have graduated in four years, while 313 entered in 2019 and have graduated in five years. This is 130 people less than the scheduled intake of 780 students. Thinking about why this situation has occurred, the number of people graduating in 5 years is over 100 people fewer than normal. When students who entered TUFS in 2019 became third years, it was still in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even after the pandemic, there are unexpected fluctuations in the number of graduates. The effects of the pandemic on our university are still ongoing.

But even more than that, the people who suffered most from the Covid-19 pandemic were those who entered university in 2019 and became second years just as the pandemic began, and those who entered in 2020, in other words, you. We were not able to have a matriculation ceremony for you in 2020. You were not able to enter the campus after the entrance exams, and for a while there was online education for the whole university. We were continuously at a loss for what to do, and thinking about it now just makes my head spin.

At that time, namely the spring of 2020, when we were muddling through as Covid-19 infections spread, we carried out many surveys of new entrants and older students using Google Form. Almost everyone answered them, and people sent many questions and opinions. Based on them we decided the university’s response to the situation, but among all the answers there is one I cannot forget. It was “I am broken-hearted and cannot think about coronavirus at all”.

Staff at the university were completely overwhelmed coping with coronavirus, but when we saw this we thought, ah, there are these sorts of things happening, too. We saw all your individual expressions and personal situations spread out before our eyes. I am sure it was very tough for the broken-hearted student. But the comment was a very good opportunity for us. Universities are organizations that tend to deal with things in a top-down way. The comment gave us the opportunity to think about all of you as individuals.

We thought the Covid-19 pandemic would pass with a little patience, but ultimately various restrictions continued for three years. At first, there was much confusion during classes on Zoom, but they were quickly resolved and we got used to it to the point that we could say, “Ah, this is convenient”. On the other hand, people couldn’t meet with friends, or take part in club activities, and this was really tough on all of you. For two years, short visits were suspended and many had to give up on opportunities to study abroad. I am sure many of you still regret not being able to enjoy the Gaigosai festival, in which, before the pandemic, the first and second years were the stars of the show. Having said this, from the autumn of 2020 people slowly started coming back to campus. In-person classes increased, long queues formed outside Seikyo, and we heard cheers coming from the sports ground. We were happy to see the return of real university life.

Practically-speaking, lectures and seminars can be done online, but campus life is not complete if it is only online. We want you to have a pleasant time at university, so the staff thought of many ways to achieve that. There were the maintenance works at the university gym, the extension of library opening hours, and the establishment of the study booths. Over a period of three years, study abroad and the Gaigosai recovered. All of you graduating today are the ones particularly affected by the pandemic, but we sincerely hope that at least during the second half of your time at TUFS you could enjoy university life en route to where you have reached today.

From your perspective, all of the restrictions you faced were because of instructions from the university. The university was following the instructions of the government as it formulated its pandemic countermeasures. For a while we wondered if this was the right thing to do, but we were swept along by the circumstances. This is something we must reflect upon. With countries closing their borders and seeking to protect their citizens within their own borders, it was like a reversal of the processes of globalization, in which national borders were becoming blurred. But shortly after the scars of the pandemic began healing, the barbarism of the Russian military in Ukraine and Israeli military in Gaza began, with its national-centric logic and lack of concern about killing people. Now I feel even more heavy-hearted than during the pandemic.

But there is no need to dwell on this here and now. Everyone here today knows what it feels like to be unable to help people in trouble during the pandemic, or to wonder how the slaughter in Gaza can be stopped. I have strong indignation regarding the trend in the world for “our country first”. I think everyone here understands that the people of the world can become friends with anyone on an individual level, regardless of nation, race, religion or gender. In this we have no differences at all.

People with these sensibilities, in other words, people who truly understand that the world is made up of various people who can understand each other by talking to each other, in reality are not the majority, and you might have to confront this reality in your adult lives. However, please do not give up. I sincerely hope that in your lives from here on you will spread in society these sensibilities that you have naturally absorbed at TUFS. Everyone has the power to change the world in the future. Please believe this and do your best.

The university will always be supporting you. Be healthy, and live the sort of life that will make the people around you happy. And once again, many congratulations on your graduation.

President of TUFS

TUFS President Ceremony Address (For Gradutes)

To the 11 people who have submitted their theses and been awarded PhDs since October, and to the 78 people in the Global Studies course and the 32 people in the Japan Studies course who have completed their master’s degrees, many congratulations.

As can be seen by reading the titles of the theses written by people awarded PhDs, the results of your long hard work have made contributions to various fields in the humanities, including linguistics, language pedagogy, cultural studies, sociology, and so on. During the period of your research there was the Covid-19 pandemic. Overseas fieldwork was out of the question and there was a period in which you could not meet and engage in debate with others. My feelings of respect for your achievements are even greater than usual simply because you have overcome all these difficulties to obtain your doctoral degree. Congratulations on your hard work.

I think that many of you completing your PhDs are standing on the starting line of your careers as researchers. While pursuing your PhD research, you might have thought that the thesis was yours and yours alone. But this is not the case. In fact, society was asking questions of you. And this is exactly why I want all of you to share the answers that you produced with society, and for them to be of use in society. In social sciences and humanities research, the questions of each individual overlap and intertwine with each other, and all point in a single direction. Please continue your activities answering the questions posed by society, and acquire the ability to change society. I truly hope that the research of you young researchers will demonstrate that research in the social sciences and humanities does have the power to change society.

The 110 people who have completed their master’s degrees have also gained much experience over the past two or three years, and this has come to fruition in your master’s theses. Of the 110 graduates, 34 are people who have come to Japan as international students.

How was life for you during your master’s degree? I expect that compared to your bachelor’s degree you spent a lot more time on your own tackling your particular topic. It was a cumulative process of setting up a research question, finding a means of answering it, and validating your conclusions. I expect you did this with the support of your supervising professors, seniors , and friends. I think many of you have also found new research colleagues from overseas. I feel sure that all these connections you have made will enrich your lives in the future.

All of you finishing your postgraduate degrees today are now going out into society as people holding PhDs and Master’s degrees. The government is ordering us to increase the number of people with postgraduate degrees, but the reality in society as a whole is that understanding is only at the level of “what’s that about?”. But there is no need to concern yourselves with that. In my opinion, the title of PhD or MA does not have meaning on its own. The important thing is that you have become people with the capability of identifying an issue, researching it, and explaining it logically in your own words. As I mentioned before, the issues that you are all identifying are those that have been posed to us by society.

There is a limitless number of things that we should be researching, or doing within society with a researcher’s mind. These include identifying the characteristics of languages, cultures, history and societies of the world, and through this promoting mutual understanding of people throughout the world, creating spaces for dialogue among people, creating the framework for co-existence within regional society, making language education appropriate for the digital age, and establishing a framework that brings one step closer cultures that enrich people’s lives. I am sure that all of you, as people who will be active on the “world” stage, can help put a stop to the current trend of widening divisions and the spread of selfish behaviour.

I believe that all who study at TUFS will go on to change society. I hope you will all go on to great things in the next stage of your lives. The university is always supporting you. Once again, many congratulations on your graduation.

President of TUFS