Japanese Language - a symbol of sound friendship

The Japanese Speech Contest 2017 was held on Wednesday 10 May in Nuku’alofa with outstanding students awarded prizes by Hon. Penisimani Fifita, Minister for Education and Training and His Excellency Mr. Yukio Numata, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Tonga. Dr. Sione Vailala Matoto was present at the event as the Guest Speaker along with Rev. Savelio ‘Atuekaho, Director of Education for the Free Church of Tonga, Principals, Parents of the 24 contestants, and the Japanese language students of participating colleges.

His Excellency in his welcoming address noted the increase popularity of the Japanese language among young students in the Kingdom as a symbol, of the sound friendship between Tonga and Japan along with Soroban Education. “Tonga is unique for its syllabus division has created its own unique Japanese language textbook, whereby studying Japanese can be easily understood by students even though it is a foreign language within Tonga’s social context,” stated the Ambassador. Japanese language was first introduced to Tongan students in 1986, and to-date there are seven high schools in the Kingdom offering Japanese Language classes, and for training teachers at the Tonga Institute of Education, TIOE.

Hon. Penisimani Fifita in his keynote address highlighted that the speech contest marks an important milestone of 30 long years of commitment by the Japanese Government in advancing the Japanese language in Tonga. Minister Fifita expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the continuous generosity of the Government and People of Japan in assisting the Kingdom, in many ways in education.

Prizes were awarded to top three contestants of each category after being judged on five essential elements of, content and structure, pronunciation and intonation, presentation, grammar and vocabulary. Milika Fifita, of Tonga High School won the Open Category, and will be Tonga’s nomination to participate in the Japanese Language Program for overseas students (Outstanding Students) this September, in Osaka Japan. Arial Sanchez also from Tonga High School won the Form 6 Category; Tangimotia Havea from ‘Eua High School won the Form 5 Category while Salome Po’uli of Tonga High School won the Form 4 Category. 24 Contestants competed this year, with contestants travelling from the outer island to represent Vava’u High School, ‘Eua High School and Tailulu College from Vava’u.

The contestants were encouraged by Dr. Sione Vailala Matoto who acquired his Master and Phd in Japan under the Japanese Government Scholarship to strive towards event loftier goals, and that the only way to achieve their purposes is to take small actions every day. He left contestants with a substantial message to be honest and honorable but “being true to yourself is tantamount.”

The Japanese Speech contest is an annual event co-hosted by the Embassy of Japan and the Ministry of Education and Training, with cooperation from JICA Tonga Office, Japanese Language Teachers’ Association of Tonga and St. Andrew’s High School.

Later the same day, H.E Mr. Yukio Numata hosted an award ceremony and reception for the Ambassador’s Commendation awarded to Dr. Raelyn ‘Esau, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education and Training and Mr. Mao’unga Maka, Principal of St. Andrew’s High School. “This award acknowledged the extraordinary contributions of individuals or groups to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries in the international community,” stated the Ambassador. The Ambassador stressed that both recipients are significant figures who have greatly furthered the development of the Japanese language in Tonga. Dr. Esau has been a great advisor to the Embassy since 2010 in the Japanese Speech Contest and also for the Japanese MEXT Scholarship while Mr. Mo’unga Maka have been an extensive support in providing the venue for the Japanese Speech Contest and is committed to offer Japanese language classes at St. Andrew’s High School.

Guests at the award ceremony and reception included Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki and Dr. Sitiveni Halapua, Mr. Claude Tupou CEO for the Ministry of Education and Training, Japanese Language Teachers Association in Tonga amongst others.


H.E Mr. Yukio Numata, Hon. Penisimani Fifita, Minister for Education and Training with Milika Fifita winner of the Japanese Speech Contest 2017 Open Category. (Left)
Viliami Toluta’u from Vava’u High School came 2nd in the Form 4 Category receiving his prize from Hon. Penisimani Fifita. (Right)

  Japanese Speech Contest 2017 at the St. Andrew’s High School Hall, 10 May 2017 (Left)
Contestants of the Japanese Speech Contest 2017 with H.E Mr. Yukio Mumata and Hon. Penisimani Fifita. (Right)

  Recipient of Ambassador’s Certificate of Commendation, Dr. Raelyn ‘Esau and Mr. Mo’unga Maka with H.E Mr. Yukio Mumata and Hon. Penisimani Fifita. (Left)
Notable guests at the reception, Dr. Sitiveni Halapua and Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki. (Right)