Soroban Education strengthen Tonga – Japan relations

The 7th National Soroban Competition in Nuku‘alofa was won by ‘Eua Government Primary School soroban students. Prizes were awarded by Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga, who was the guest of honour at the competition held at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall on Thursday, 30 March 2017. His Excellency Mr. Yukio Numata, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga was present at the competition together with Mr. Masao Fujii, Director General of the International Soroban Diffusion Foundation from Japan, and 13 soroban students who visited from Tokyo, Japan.

His Excellency Mr. Yukio Numata in his welcome address partially in Tongan language, congratulated the young soroban competitors and encouraged them not to give up but to continue working hard and doing right, “oua na’a mou tukololo pea oua na’a mou lotosi’I ka mou kitaki ma’u pe he ngaue malohi mo e ngaue lelei,” said the Ambassador. He emphasized that soroban will not only improve mathematical skills of children but will also foster self-confidence, concentration and memory retention. He also asked students to look after their soroban abacus, donated every year from Ono city, in Japan.

“Through soroban we share a cultural and educational bond of friendship that is held together by our commitment to ensuring the mutual understanding between our nation’s future generations.”

The Ambassador acknowledged the warm hospitality extended by Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training in hosting the visiting soroban delegation from Japan. “With this students exchanges, we enrich the closeness between our people and foster the stepping stones towards goodwill and development through insight and open-mindedness.” The soroban delegation from Japan were in Nuku’alofa on a four day tour that included and audience with Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, homestay with Tongan families, school visits and a soroban demonstration at the National Soroban Competition, before they departed on Friday, 31 March 2017.

Hon. Siaosi Sovaneni in his keynote address thanked the people and Government of Japan for the continuous collaboration in teaching soroban education to primary students in the Kingdom. He noted that soroban education strengthens the mathematic skills and knowledge of children, and hope that soroban could also be taught starting from Class 1.

The top student at the class 5 written category was won by Siueli Vakapuna, from the Government Primary School of ‘Ohonua, ‘Eua. Vakapuna’s prizes includes a fully funded trip to Japan by the International Soroban Diffusion Foundation, ISDF to participate in the annual soroban camp in Oze, Gunma Prefecture this August. Honeylizzy Falemaka also from ‘Ohonua, ‘Eua won the class 4 written category. (Kindly refer to the complete result for the details of the result)

The highlight of the National Soroban Competition was the Ambassador’s Certificate of Commendation, awarded by H.E Mr. Yukio Numata to Tonga’s Minister of Education and Training and Mr. Masao Fujii of the ISDF, in recognition of their outstanding contribution in enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the Kingdom of Tonga, through soroban education. Both Certificates were awarded during a reception later in the evening, hosted by the Ambassador, at his residence in ‘Anana. Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni received the Ambassador’s Certificate of Commendation on behalf of the Minister of Education, Hon. Penisimani Fifita.

The Ambassador in presenting the certificates pointed out that His Late Majesty, King Tupou IV with the support of a Japanese Professor, Nakano from Daitobunka University and the Nakano Soroban School incorporated soroban education into Tonga’s schools, in the 1970’s. Teachers from Nakano came to Tonga to teach soroban, and one of those earliest soroban teachers who came to Tonga was Mr. Masao Fujii. Since their first visit Mr. Fujii has visited Tonga every year for 40 years to improve the fundamental soroban education of Tonga.

To date, soroban education is compulsory in Maths subject for Primary Schools throughout Tonga, and also at the Tonga Institute of Education courses for teachers. The annual National Soroban Competition is one of the cultural and educational events co-hosted by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Embassy of Japan, since 2011 with the collaboration from JICA and ISDF.


H.E Mr. Yukion Numata, Mr. Masao Fujii, Mr.Shinji Yoshiura with Siueli Vakapuna, winner of the Clsss 5 Written Category who will later join the Annual Soroban Camp in Oze, Japan.(left)
Mr. Fotofili Napa’a received the trophy for ‘Eua Government Primary School Soroban Team, winning the Top school at the National Soroban Competiton. Mr. Napa’a also won the Top Teacher in the Teacher’s Competition.(right)


The soroban demonstration by the visiting soroban students from Japan, during the competition at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall on Thursday, 30 March 2017.


The Class 4 & 5 soroban students competing in the Written Category.(left)
Distinguished guests together with the ‘Eua soroban students and teachers, and the soroban student from Japan.(right)


Soroban Demonstration by the visiting Japanese soroban students during the audience with HRH Crown Prince Tupoutu’a ‘Ulukalala.(left)
Audience with HRH Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala.(right)


H.E Mr. Yukio Numata, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga receiving the Ambassador’s Certificate of Commendation on behalf of the Minister of Education and Training, and Mr. Masao Fujii.(left)
Presentation of the Ambassador’s Certificate of Commendation by H.E Mr. Yukio Numata to Mr. Masao Fujii on Thursday, 30 March 2017.(right)


The Toast by Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni to celebrate the mutual understanding and shared experience of the people of Tonga and Japan, through Soroban Education. (left)
H.E Mr. Yukio Numata, Mr. Masao Fuji and the Teachers of the Ministry of Education and Training who are teaching soroban education in schools throughout the Kingdom, at the reception on Thursday evening. (right)