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The Fifteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students - FINALS DAY

Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese concept of mottainai, the power of translation, the Swiss Army, and ghosts in Edinburgh were just some of the topics coverd by the finalists of the Fifteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students. The Finals Day of the Fifteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students was held on 29th February 2020 at King’s College London. The Finalists at this year’s event were 21 students studying at 11 different universities throughout the United Kingdom wowed the audience with their Japanese and public speaking skills. There were 15 speeches throughout the day on a huge variety of topics.

First up was the Individual Presentation Category (post-beginner level), with five competing finalists. The first prize was won by Joshua Wei Ken Yeoh, a 3rd year at Imperial College London, for his presentation entitled “Materialism and Environment”. Sacha Oriet, a 2nd year student at SOAS, University of London, claimed second prize with his presentation “The Swiss Army – A means to achieve neutrality”.

The Speech Category finalists had their turn to speak next. The speech Category is for students studying Japanese as either a Degree or Non-degree Course. After their speeches, the finalists were asked detailed questions on their chosen topics by an interlocutor, all in Japanese. Tessa Rizzoli, a 4th year student at the University of Cambridge, won the top prize for her lively speech about sustainability and Japanese tradition, “Mottainai and Kintsugi – the golden answers to a sustainable present”. The second prize was won by Ellis Warren, who in his speech entitled, “The Power of Diversity: The future of Japanese Society where foreign students play an increasingly important role”, spoke about the importance of the role of foreign students in Japan – a very relevant topic for all of our finalists!

The last presentations of the day were given by the five Group Presentation Category (beginner level) finalists. The Group Category contestants were not placed individually, but instead received prizes for their participation. The audience enjoyed talks on: “Home sweet home” (Team Global Citizens, King’s College London), “Seasons in the UK” (Team The Nice Oranges, University of Leeds), “Olympics, here we come!” (Team Matcha Tea Talker, University of Bath), “Edinburgh Ghost Tour” (Team Shrock, University of Edinburgh) and “Bubble Tea” (Team Lady and Gentleman, Imperial College London).

Following the speeches, we were treated to video message past finalists, many of whom are now working in Japan and/or continuing their Japanese studies, as well as a beautiful song performance given by student volunteers from King’s College London.

After all of the hard work of all the finalists throughout the day, and excitement of the prize-giving, everyone really deserved a break! The day ended with a reception, where finalists, their supporters, sponsors, guests and staff were given an opportunity to get to know each other.

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, Clearspring, Connect Job, Globe-Trotter, IIJ Europe Limited, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, JP Books, King’s College London, Nikkei Europe Limited, Ningyocho Imahan, Oxford Brookes University, Regions, Ricoh UK Ltd, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, SUQQU Cosmetics, Wagashi Japanese Bakery and 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 20th March 2020.