An event and symposium commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the College of International Relations was held on Saturday, December 8, Ritsumeikan University, Kinugasa Campus. Distinguished guests from far and wide, including Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeo Akiba, were among the 400 in attendance to celebrate the College and reflect on its history.
The event began with a greeting from President of Ritsumeikan University Mikio Yoshida, who spoke about how the establishment of the College of International Relations in 1988, as the first such college in western Japan, led to Ritsumeikan seeking more partnerships with foreign universities. He added that the hard work the College has put into creating a global learning environment was instrumental in the decision to establish the College of Global Liberal Arts, which will feature an undergraduate dual degree with Australian National University.
In his congratulatory address, Vice-Minister Akiba touched on how, when he was head of the China Desk, he accompanied China’s then-Premier Wen Jibao on his historic visit to Ritsumeikan in April 2007 – a visit during which the Premier donated the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries to the university. He continued by saying:
The College of International Relations has striven to constantly evolve over the years by pursuing new endeavors and opening new programs, and it now boasts numerous successful alumni all over the world. I hope that students of the College will continue to think about how to restructure global systems as they learn about international relations.
There followed a video message from Dr. Christine Chin, Dean of School of International Service at American University - the College of International Relations’ partner in the new joint degree program; before Professor Akihiko Kimijima, Dean of the College of International Relations, issued an address, in which he declared:
The College of International Relations continues to spearhead self-directed reforms in the field of international relations in Japan based on Prince Saionji’s ideal of international cooperation, which can be considered the basis for all of Ritsumeikan's academics. Going forward, we will strive to continue to produce graduates equipped with both the courage to go beyond borders and a sense of solidarity and responsibility as members of global society.
The ensuing symposium was entitled ‘The Course of the College of International Relations in a Changing World’ and began with a dialogue between Vice-Minister Akiba and Ritsumeikan University Visiting Professor Mitoji Yabunaka (Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2010).
Claire Turenne Sjolander, Vice-Provost of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at The University of Ottawa, and Atsushi Ishida, Dean of both the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, then each gave individual lectures, before both took part in an open discussion with Visiting Professor Yabunaka.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees The Ritsumeikan Trust, Tomomi Morishima, closed the session by talking about the establishment of the College of International Relations as having been a major catalyst for reforms at Ritsumeikan University; expressing in conclusion his determination to ensure ‘the college continues to strive to cultivate talent capable of enriching the way we live our lives in the future and the lives of everyone in Japan, as contributors to a new age and a new world ahead’.