SOAS students win top prizes at Japanese speech contest

SOAS students Peter Ashton and Callum Cafferty have excelled in the 19th annual Japanese Speech Contest for Students, which this year was held on 2 March 2024 at King’s College London. 

Peter won the individual category for their speech Talent and Efforts, while Callum was a finalist in the Speech Category for their speech Japan’s Energy Self-Sufficiency Problem. The individual category is for second year students, while the overall speech category is for final year students. The final was the culmination of a thorough selection process in the months prior, with five finalists in the Speech category and five finalists in the individual category.

Dr Satona Suzuki, lecturer in the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture, said: “Peter and Callum worked exceptionally hard for the speech contest, and I am so proud and grateful to be involved in the speech contest as a committee member and a mentor. The speech contest provides an excellent opportunity not only as a contest to test one's language skills but also to interact with students from other universities. 

"It can be scary and nerve-wracking, but they did a great job. I am incredibly proud of their achievements, especially since they were very competitive this year. Well done, Peter and Callum.”

If you are studying Japanese and you're entering your final year, go for it, you absolutely won't regret it.

Peter spoke of his win in the Individual Category: “I was quite apprehensive about even entering this contest, but with my teachers' encouragement and support I was able not only to enter, but to win. I also want to stress that all of my fellow finalists were at least as deserving of this win as I may have been. I hope all of them and their presentations are similarly celebrated.”

Callum added: “I found the event so much fun and really engaging. Everyone gave such excellent speeches, and it was amazing to meet such incredible people. I'm beyond grateful to Dr Satona Suzuki for all her help in painstakingly coaching me and to all the fantastic people at the BATJ for providing this brilliant opportunity. 

"If you are studying Japanese and you're entering your final year, go for it, you absolutely won't regret it.” 

The Japanese Speech Contest for Students occurs annually, and is hosted by the British Association for Teaching Japanese (BATJ) and the Japan Foundation in London. 

Image by Jezael Melgoza via Unsplash