JFTC Essay Competition

Remarks by Selection Committee Chair, Dr. Iwao NAKATANI

First, I wish to express my appreciation for the great response to the JFTC Essay Competition 2011 from around the world. This year we attracted 186 entries, resetting the record from last year. Reflecting the increasingly international nature of the competition, the 120 entries we received in English significantly outnumbered the 66 entries in Japanese. I suspect that the timeliness of this year’s theme—Vision for a New Japan after 3.11—contributed to the strong interest this year.

In reading through the many fine essays, I was struck by how keenly so many people from outside Japan had felt the devastation of the immense earthquake on the Pacific Northeast coast. I also saw the very high interest that people have in the country of Japan, for which I am, as a Japanese citizen, grateful indeed.

After careful reading of all the essays and close consideration of their respective merits, the committee has selected the following for the Grand Prize and the Prize for Excellence respectively.

The Grand Prize
Nicole Brown: “Japan v 3.11 - Reclaiming the Date”

The author of this essay is a female Jamaican who currently lives in Trinidad and Tobago. The title of her essay is eye-catching in itself. “Japan v3.11” reads as Japan - Version 3.11. What this title suggests is that in the aftermath of March 11, Japan needs to operate with a new model. And in order to create this new model, the author proposes that Japan has to adopt a new set of values that recognize humanity and social health, in addition to a new philosophy that links Japan with the world, setting a vision for the future, and pursuing innovation and productivity in such areas as renewable energy. These changes, asserts the author, are needed to enable the creation of a national structure that can lead the world.

This hypothesis was very well received by many on the selection committee, and I would add that another notable feature of the essay is the rich sense of humanity and humility exuded by the author, which makes the reader warmly receptive to the message she presents.

The Prize for Excellence
Chiden Balmes: “The Making of New Innovative Japan: Road Map to Great Recovery”

The author of this essay is a university student from the Philippines who is currently living in Korea. Selection committee members were unanimous in their praise for the clear, structured way in which the author presents his thoughts. He frames his argument by saying that Japan needs to become an ‘innovation superpower’, and compellingly outlines the potential Japan has in three areas: Entrepreneurial Japan; Green Japan; and Global Japan. He concludes his essay by positioning 3.11 as a major opportunity for Japan to become the innovation superpower that he proposes.

This brings to a close of my summary for this year’s prizewinners. As always, I commend the JFTC for continuing to host the essay competition with such strong international appeal.