Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Keiichi Katakami, is optimistic Ghana and Japan will continue to nurture their existing cordial relations and promote cultural exchanges.

Speaking to Myjoyonline.com moments after supervising the 15th Japanese Language Speech contest for various categories of Ghanaians, including the Care Guide Montessori of Gbawe and the Mary Star of the Sea International School in Accra at the weekend, Ambassador Keiichi Katakami was glad that the school children no older than Junior High School pupils, had made so much progress within a short time of being introduced to the language.

“The performance by each student in the Japanese speech contest made my job as a judge to decide who is first or second very, very difficult. Each of the contestants has done a tremendously good job and some schools have just started Japanese in less than a year and now they are participating in the Japanese speech contest that is very encouraging. It is marvelous I would say.

“And why Japanese? Always some schools have a second language course and the parents of these children know that making their wards learn a second language enhances the capacity of the children, make them clever and smarter and I hope that as the Japanese Ambassador, more people will pick up the language and of course other languages,” he said.

In the interesting contests, the pupils were allowed a minute to express themselves on any subject and topic of their choice, and judges including the ambassador and the first secretary of the embassy, Yuki Tamura, Professor Ebenezer Owusu, president of Ghana Alumni of Japanese Universities and Ms Emi Nishihata of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) looked out for content, diction and presentation.

In the first category, (school children up to JHS), Miss Sylvia Nyandey of Mary Star of the Sea International School came tops, followed by Miss Stephanie Quartey of Care Guide Montessori and then Master Jude Okyere of Mary Star of the Sea International School.