Last week I reported on my atrocious telephone interview which, after the submission of an essay, served as the second stage of the selection process for the 3rd Japanese Speech Contest for University Students.

Today, mid-Japan Soc committee meeting, I received the following email.

Gulp indeed. According to the leaflet, I’ll be one of just 6 finalists for my category here in the UK. Whilst that may make it sound like I can actually speak Japanese, I am more inclined to think that they felt sorry for me after I was turned down at stage 1 in 2005, and that they were suffering from a lack of entrants.

The date of the contest should make for an interesting few weeks. It coincides not only with the exam period, but also, Big Job Interview period.

They call this the “Christmas Holidays” – all I can say is I hope *Twinkle* enjoys listening to the same speech morning and night.

My topic, actually decided upon last Spring, is NGOs / charity organisations in Japan and their influence upon the democratisation process, a topic that happens to mirror that of my final year dissertation.

2008 sees the 10th anniversary of the NPO law, a landmark bit of legislation that came into force following the Kobe earthquake of 1995, which, in addition to leaving thousands dead, resulted in over a million volunteers flooding into the region from all over Japan to help out. None of these volunteers were covered by any kind of insurance etc as there was no established system for recognising NGOs – thus they couldn’t do things like set up bank accounts, rent photocopiers or claim tax back from donations.

The NPO law changed a lot of that.

By combining my experience working with Oxfam Japan earlier this year with my dissertation research, I hope to give a presentation that is at least semi-interesting. Hopefully, I will have prepared sufficiently so I won’t be quaking in my boots.

Oh, and by the way, I dedicate this speech contest effort to my sensei, without whom my university years would not have been anything like the amazing experience they have been thus far.