Our Story

Our Mission

The Japan ICU Foundation is an independent educational foundation based in New York City. Our mission is to work with International Christian University to nurture global citizens who contribute to the well-being of humanity. ICU is a bilingual (English/Japanese) liberal arts university situated on a verdant 150 acre campus in the western suburbs of Tokyo, Japan.

JICUF envisions a community of global citizens who actively contribute to a peaceful and sustainable future for humanity. These global citizens are critical thinkers and effective communicators, comfortable traversing cultural and national boundaries. They have a firm ethical compass and a commitment to the common good. They are inspired by ICU’s Christian heritage and the universal values of peace, justice, equality, freedom and love.

We achieve our mission through providing scholarships and grants to ICU students, faculty and alumni, managing a variety of international educational and research programs, and assisting ICU in the construction and renovation of campus facilities. We also work with ICU to recruit international students, raise funds and support the activities of ICU alumni in North America.

Our Areas of Focus

The Japan ICU Foundation’s mission is to work with ICU to nurture global citizens who contribute to the well-being of humanity. One of the ways we fulfill our mission is to focus on the following three themes: 1) Sustainability, 2) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and 3) Peacebuilding. The Foundation considers these themes to be core responsibilities of global citizens, and key to the common good. A definition of each theme and its relevance to the Foundation is provided below.

1) Sustainability
Sustainability is maintaining a balance between human activities and the preservation of the natural environment to ensure that future generations can continue to thrive. The natural environment is a common good without which humanity cannot survive. The present generation has a responsibility to live in a way that does not diminish the quality of life for future generations.

2) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
● Diversity is ensuring that people of all backgrounds are represented.
● Equity is treating everyone fairly, providing equal opportunities and access to resources.
● Inclusion is building a welcoming environment where everyone has a say.

DEI is a natural outcome of having respect for all people. The belief that all people are equal in dignity and rights is at the core of both the Foundation and ICU. All students at ICU sign a pledge to uphold the Principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

3) Peacebuilding
Peacebuilding is an active effort to sustain human flourishing in order to avoid or resolve violent conflict. ICU and the Foundation owe their existence to the peace that followed the devastation of WWII. From its inception, ICU was committed to nurturing globally-minded citizens who would contribute to lasting peace.

The Foundation will encourage the ICU community to contemplate, discuss, and take action to promote these themes at ICU and within the broader society.

Our History

At the end of World War II, the long-standing hope of establishing a top quality international university in Japan came to the forefront. With Japan suffering from the defeat and the devastation of the war, citizens committed to peace and reconciliation in Japan and North America decided to come together to form a major university of distinctive Christian character that would educate leaders dedicated to cooperation and international understanding.

Planning committees were formed in both Japan and in North America. With the pledges and support of North American mission boards, Japan International Christian University Foundation, Inc., was formally incorporated in the State of New York in Spring 1949. The first President and the Vice-President of the Foundation were two preeminent mission leaders, Ralph E. Diffendorfer and John Coventry Smith. Kenneth Scott Latourette, the distinguished professor of the History of Christianity at Yale University Divinity School, succeeded Diffendorfer after his death in 1951.

Eleanor Roosevelt spoke about the UN Declaration of Human Rights at ICU’s first commencement address in 1953. ICU’s first President Dr. Hachiro Yuasa is seen seated behind Mrs. Roosevelt.

Click here to read Eleanor Roosevelt’s commencement address, which emphasized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Click here to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Concerted fundraising campaigns were initiated in both Japan and in North America. Hisato Ichimada, the Governor of the Bank of Japan who was Buddhist, headed the Japan campaign that raised the funds necessary to purchase a large tract of land for the university. The Honorary Chair of the US fundraising campaign was General Douglas MacArthur, and the North American public responded with generous contributions as well.

ICU was officially founded on June 15, 1949, but the legal recognition did not come until March of 1953 when the university opened its doors to its first class of students. This new university soon became a prime symbol of reconciliation between the people of Japan and the people of North America.

In the early years, with the growing support of a number of Christian denominations in North America and deeply committed individuals, the Japan ICU Foundation assisted in the construction of a number of new buildings on the ICU campus and provided 60% of ICU’s operating expenses and 90% of the resources needed for special projects. During those years, 44% of the faculty members were from overseas, and their salaries were completely paid through the Japan ICU Foundation in New York.

However, in a matter of years, ICU developed into one of the finest universities in Japan and no longer needed the Foundation’s support in covering operating expenses and faculty salaries. Then by the 1980s, while Japan was rapidly becoming one of the leading economies in the world, the Foundation’s constituent church mission boards began to experience decreasing financial resources and began to emphasize programmatic priorities that focused on the more needy parts of the world. Support from North America was so drastically reduced that the Foundation was forced, in 1991, to re-organize and dramatically scale back its operations. The Foundation remained almost dormant until 1997 when, with the support and encouragement of ICU itself, the Foundation’s offices in New York City were re-opened.

By 1999, when ICU celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Tokyo and in New York, it was clear that the Foundation was to be the beneficiary of a very generous bequest from Professor Donald Othmer, and his wife, Mildred Topp Othmer, of Brooklyn, New York. The additional financial resources have enabled the Foundation to, once again, provide significant support for ICU. (Click here to learn more about the Othmers.) In 2000, the Foundation was reorganized into two not-for-profit corporations: the Japan ICU Foundation, Inc. and the JICUF Endowment, Inc., the former is an operating entity and the latter is a support entity.


The Japan ICU Foundation and ICU are separate institutions with a shared mission to promote the universal values of freedom, justice, peace and love, and to cultivate global citizens who will contribute to the well-being of humanity. With a history of partnership spanning 70 years, JICUF and ICU continue to work closely together from both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

ICU is Japan’s premier four-year liberal arts college and university. From it’s founding in 1949, ICU has aimed to educate students in an international setting to be stewards of a just and peaceful world. Through its academic commitment and emphasis on the individual, ICU has a mission to pursue truth, defend academic freedom and enrich inner freedom. It is a community where people from different nations and cultures live, study and work together.

ICU’s First President Dr. Hachiro Yuasa
As ICU’s first President, Dr. Hachiro Yuasa said in his address at ICU’s first commencement on March 21, 1957,

“At ICU, internationalism is not just another topic for futile discussion.  It is a daily, maturing experience, owing to the opportunities on this campus for international, interracial and intercultural community living.  Likewise Christianity at ICU is never identified only with a creed or sectarian scruple.  Rather it is a dynamic creative principle governing and enriching our human relations.  I thank God that at ICU we have been made humbly conscious that we cannot serve the great cause of social justice and world peace conscientiously and constructively unless we ourselves outgrow our 20th century superstitions and cleanse ourselves of the blackest of human sins, arrogance.”

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