On 25 February, 2012, the 25th Japanese Public Speaking Contest was held in the Bel Air hotel in The Hague. The contest was organised by the Embassy of Japan and the Executive Committee for the 25th Japanese Public Speaking Contest, and sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Japan Airlines Co. Ltd., Canon Europe N.V., Nikon Europe N.V., Restaurant Benkei, Restaurant Kobe and FUJIFILM Europe B.V..
This year 22 candidates participated in the contest (although 1 candidate did not show up on the day itself due to illness). Most candidates were students, at the Rotterdam Business School, Hogeschool Zuyd or University of Leiden. Two mature candidates studied Japanese privately.
The theme of this year’s contest was: “People of Japan: THIS is Holland” (「日本のみなさん"オランダ“ってこんな国です」). The theme was interpreted in many different ways and candidates spoke about many different aspects of Dutch culture. In general the quality of speeches this year was very high.
Winner of the Grand Prize Mr. Oscar Vuijst
The winner of the 25th Japanese Public Speaking Contest, and winner of a return flight to Japan including a homestay period, was Mr. Oscar Vuijst, student at the Hogeschool Zuyd in Maastricht. His speech stood out because he had turned it into a question and answer dialogue between a fictitious Dutch person and a Japanese person. This way he highlighted some undervalued and remarkable aspects of the Netherlands.
There were several very original speeches, including the one by Ms. Manon Ladru who used a haiku she had written herself to express how she felt about the Netherlands, and one by Mr. Farah Nasri from the University of Leiden who touched upon the darker side of Dutch culture, the coffee shops.
The chairman of the jury was Mr. Sugiyama, also chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce. As a first time jury member he commented on the excellent speeches given and loved learning many new things about the Netherlands in this way. One bit of information he remembered clearly was that you can get free coffee in Dutch supermarkets.
Grand Prize ：Oscar Vuijst
Excellence Prize：Mehmet Kahveci
Excellence Prize：Virgil Singodikromo
Special Prize：Farah Nasri
Special Prize：Manon Ladru
Encouragement Prize：Athur Wolf
Encouragement Prize：Mandy Lin
Front row from left to right: Mr. Nishikawa (Director Passenger Sales at JAL), Ms. Inoue (Lecturer at Rotterdam Business School), Mr. Sugiyama (Chairman of the JCC), Mr. Meuris (Senior Lecturer Hogeschool Zuyd), Mr. Shimada (Director Restaurant Benkei)
Second row from the front, from left to right: Mr. Yoshida (Manager at Fujifilm Europe B.V.), Mr. Kondo (Director Kobe Japanese Restaurant), Mr. Tsuchida (President at Nikon Europe B.V.), Professor Smits (University of Leiden)
and behind them the candidates of the 25th Japanese Public Speaking Contest