Foreign embassy officials in Japan have competed in a Japanese speech contest in Tokyo.
Officials from 13 countries, including India and Yemen, took part in the event, which marked its 25th year on Thursday. Their speeches highlighted cultural differences they have experienced between Japan and their countries, and the importance of promoting international mutual understanding.
Tom Wilson from the Australian Embassy was awarded the Foreign Minister Prize. He spoke about his memories of first visiting Japan 25 years ago as a high school exchange student, including how his host family, teachers and friends kindly taught him Japanese. He then called on international students to work hard and not be afraid to speak the language.
Jan Kenneth Bolante from the Philippine Embassy won the Education Minister Award. Referring to traditional Japanese Daruma dolls, he said that while they scared him at first, his perception changed after learning that people have them to help make their wishes come true.
Other award winners include Aurelijus Zykas from the Lithuanian Embassy, Marcell Bagdy Toth from the Hungarian Embassy and Garvey McIntosh from the US Embassy.
Shibata Iwao, the head organizer of the contest, said it was rewarding to be able to hold the event amid the pandemic. He added that it was a great opportunity to learn various viewpoints based on how the participants chose their themes and how they see Japanese culture.

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