Speech Contest Celebrates Ties With Japan

High school students from across the country competed in the first ever Japanese-language contest Sunday afternoon in Phnom Penh.

The contest, which was held at the National Institute of Education, commemorated the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations be­tween Cambodia and Japan, Japan­ese Ambassador Shinohara Katsu­hiro said Sunday.

Of the 16 high school students who gave five-minute speeches in Japanese on a topic of their choice, 18-year-old Tha Srei Nuth of Phnom Penh came out on top. Using skills acquired during three years studying the Japanese language, she gave a talk about the cultural significance of the lotus flower.

“I was frustrated during my speech, but I was excited to be selected as the winner. It’s because of my interesting topic, I think,” she said after the results were announced. “I am proud and excited.”

The second-place winner was Lim Lyhong, 18, of Phnom Penh, who spoke in Japanese about his dream of becoming a diplomat to the panel of five judges.

“I want other students to study harder, not only Japanese, but other languages, which will bring us [the ability] to find jobs easily,” he said afterward.

Heng Rachana, a 15-year-old from Siem Reap town who placed third, gave a confident speech about the beauty of nature while sporting a dark blue kimono.

Winner Tha Srei Nuth’s prize is a trip to Japan in mid-July.

Pit Chamnan, secretary of state of the Ministry of Education, cited economic growth as a reason for Cambodian students to learn Japanese, pointing to the growing number of Japanese investors in Cambodia.

“The languages will be a bridge for students to get a brighter future,” he said.

The Asia Language and Culture Exchange Association organized the event in collaboration with the Em­bassy of Japan and the Ministry of Education, said Lach Sokret Kereya, secretary-general of ALCEA.

“We want high school students to express what they think in their minds,” and learn about Japan through contact with the country and its language, Lach Sokret Kereya said.

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