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The Fourteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students - FINALS DAY

The Finals Day of the Fourteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students took place on 2nd March 2019 at Kings College London. The audience watched 16 speeches from finalists who had competed against students from 17 universities across the UK to get to the finals. The finalists talked about a fascinating variety of topics and the judges had a very difficult decision to make.

First up was the Individual Presentation Category (post-beginner level), with five competing finalists. The first prize was won by Karolina Jankiewicz, a 4th year student at Imperial College London, for her presentation entitled “30 years of change: Poland after 1989”. Jin Hui Teh, also a fourth year at Imperial College London, claimed second prize with his presentation on “Malaysia: Racial Diversity and Harmony”.

Next, the audience was treated to speeches from the Speech Category finalists. The speech Category is for students studying Japanese as either a Degree or Non-degree Course. After their speeches, the finalists had to think on their feet as they were grilled by an interlocutor asking questions in Japanese. Shuyuan (Shelly) Chen, a 2nd year at SOAS University of London, wowed the judges with her speech, “The dream and darkness of ‘idol culture’, how values of young generation are shaped by ‘fandom’” and was awarded first prize. Second prize went to 4th year University of Sheffield student, Alexander Thacker, who presented on: “The End of the Heisei: The Japanese Imperial Household System”. Finally, Callum Sarracino scooped the third prize. The 4th year student at the University of Edinburgh spoke about “’A Silent Voice’: The Power within Manga to Overcome Societal Prejudice”.

The presentations of the six groups participating in the Group Presentation Category (beginner level) presentations followed. The Group Category contestants were not placed individually, but instead received prizes for their participation. The audience enjoyed talks on: “Foreign Food” (University of Bristol), “The Eastern European Culture and our Backgrounds” (University of Oxford), “Britain is strange, isn’t it?” (University of Sheffield), “Melting Pot: Are These Our Countries’ Food?” (SOAS University of London), “Loch Ness Monster” (University of Edinburgh), and “’Double Eleven’ in China”.

It was a great day and the hard work and dedication of all the finalists really shone through in their speeches. Minna-san, otsukaresama deshita!

We would like to thank all participants, their teachers and supporters, the judges, audience members and BATJ for making the contest such a success. In addition, special thanks must go to the generous sponsors: Central Japan Railway Company, Connect Job, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, JP BOOKS, King’s College London, NHK Cosmomedia (Europe) Ltd., Ningyocho IMAHAN, Nikkei Europe Ltd., Oxford Brookes University, Regions, Ricoh UK Ltd, Toshiba of Europe Ltd, Wagashi Japanese Bakery /sister company of Kitaya in Japan, ZOOM Japan.

We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students of Japanese language as possible to apply for next year’s contest! Finally, students still at school may be interesting in applying for the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary Schools, the deadline for which is Fri 22nd March 2019.