The Takamadonomiya Junior High School
English Speech Contest is the largest and most prestigious English speech
contest in Japan, with over 100,000 students participating every year.
Even though English teachers and language assistants participate in this
contest as judges and tutors for their students, many do not know how
discriminatory many of the contest's rules for qualification are. These
rules, most notably rules 2a, 2b, and 3, are not based on English ability,
but rather on a student's race and whether or not they have lived outside
of Japan for a period of time. Unfortunately, many other junior high
school English speech contests base their qualifications on this contest's
rules effectively depriving a large number of junior high school students
in Japan the opportunity to study English with their peers. This results
in bullying at school and further segregates Japanese society. For more on
the rules and what is wrong with them please see the PETITION LETTER TO
This contest is organized by the Japan
National Student Association (JNSA) which also hosts the contest's website
(www.jnsafund.org). Other sponsors
for this contest include: the Yomiuri Newspaper, NHK, Japanese local and
national governments, and Coca Cola bottlers. The JNSA was created 54
years ago by Mr. H Suzuki with the support of the imperial family, and the
Yomiuri Newspaper Corporation where its offices are located. Strangely,
the English website leaves out many details which can be found only in the
Japanese version about three quarters of the way down as a PDF file http://www.jnsafund.org/ja/ptt54th/index.html.
To learn more about the JNSA and how they view their objectives please see
the TAKAMADONOMIYA REPLY TO ANONYMOUS STUDENT LETTER. Please be
sure to note the alternative English contest that they suggest my Chinese
student should attend, and how it lacks any restrictions on English
ability, thus ensuring that students with English speaking backgrounds
will win. Clearly there needs to be a middle ground.
the JNSA, three years ago the rules were amended to allow some foreign
students to participate (namely Zainichi Koreans). At this time rule 3 was
removed. It stated, "If any of your parents or grandparents are foreigners
(including naturalized Japanese) in principle you are excluded." However,
the "spirit of the rule" was somehow still in effect preventing many, but
not all mixed race Japanese public school students from participating.
Because of the multiple misunderstandings this "unwritten rule" created it
has been reinstated resulting in the exclusion of some students who
participated last year. To see the effects this has had on one such
student please read the ANONYMOUS STUDENT LETTER.
I NEED YOUR HELP
Please help to end
discrimination in Japan's public schools. Many Japanese Exchange
Teachers (JET) as well as Japanese teachers have joined this petition.
Furthermore many people have been supportive of this petition, and have
expressed relief that someone is doing something about this issue. If you
have participated, either as a judge or student tutor, in a speech contest
where the rules have discriminated against children based on their blood
please find out exactly WHAT the contest was and send me your story for my
Please take a moment to print out the PETITION FORM
and other information. When you have signed it please ask your friends and
or colleagues to do the same then fax or mail it back to me. On the
petition I simply need a location, NOT an entire address. If you want
further info please add your e-mail address. If your name is written kanji
(Chinese/Japanese) you should only write your name and not signature.
Alternately, you can take a second to sign the other less formal ONLINE
PETITION. Please note that in signing the petition you are agreeing to
the opinions stated by in THE PETITION LETTER TO TAKAMADONOMIYA.
Finally, I need to publicize this issue as much as possible.
Please forward this website address on to any publications and/or friends,
and check back for updates.
For More Information Please Contact: