Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Education, at the Japanese Speech Contest 2010 on Sunday, 4 July 2010, at 2.30pm at the Japanese Association, Singapore

Your Excellency,
Mr. Makoto Yamanaka, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Kon ni chi wa. It gives me great pleasure to be here this afternoon at the Japanese Speech Contest 2010.

Japanese Speech Contest 2010

The Japanese Speech Contest, I understand, has a long history. It was first initiated in 1968 by the Japanese Cultural Society and was later combined with the Students’ Eloquence Contest organised by the Japanese Association in 1996 to become what it is today. Over the past years, the scope of the contest has expanded. From a single category for Adults in 1968, the contest has expanded into its current four categories — secondary, junior college, tertiary and open category.

I note that this is the 15th year that the Japanese Speech Contest is organised. As with previous years, the contest has seen keen participation from many learners of the Japanese language. I am pleased that this year, we have 43 participants from the secondary school, junior college and tertiary categories.

Among the participants are some seasoned contestants, having taken part in this contest two or three times, each time performing better than the last. I am heartened to see the passion, determination and discipline that the participants have put in to excel in the language. Many have demonstrated that they had attained the level of proficiency to communicate effectively in the language.

Practising the Language and Enhancing One’s Understanding of the Culture

One of the key success factors in learning a foreign language, other than perseverance and passion, is the opportunity to use the language. Besides learning language through conventional ways of writing, listening, speaking and reading, enrichment activities such as drama and cuisine classes, speech and writing competitions and immersion trips give learners greater exposure to the language and the opportunities to apply the language in real-life scenarios. Through these activities, learners would acquire a higher proficiency in the language, as well as a deeper understanding of the culture. The speech contest is also an excellent way to practise their spoken Japanese.


I applaud the concerted efforts of the organisers, sponsors and supporters of the Japanese Speech Contest for continuing the contest all these years. As we groom a pool of Singaporeans who are conversant in the Japanese language to act as bridges to other countries like Japan, I would like to urge the organisers to continue in your good work. This will help enhance Singapore-Japan relations, and promote deeper understanding between the two countries.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the participants and winners of the Japanese Speech Contest 2010. May this serve as an encouragement for you to pursue your passion in the language further. For the winners of the tertiary and open categories, I was told that you will get a chance to participate in a home stay programme in Shizuoka, Japan. I hope you will make good use of this precious opportunity to further improve your Japanese language and understand the culture as well.

Gan bat te ku da sai (Good luck and all the best). Thank you.