Book of Speeches
Chiran Speech Contest
Chiran, a former town that in 2007 became part of Minamikyushu City, in Kagoshima Prefecture has sponsored
since 1990 the
Messages of Peace from Chiran Speech Contest. The speeches cover topics related
to the preciousness of life and the importance of peace. The theme of the
contest is "Shine Your Life for Tomorrow."
During World War II, Chiran served as the primary Japanese Army sortie base
for kamikaze pilots. Over 400 Army pilots departed from Chiran to attack Allied
ships around Okinawa. Although people outside Japan may think kamikaze and peace
to be contradictory concepts, the residents of Chiran sadly said farewell to
many young men who died trying to defend their country. Therefore, the citizens
of Chiran want to remember the deaths of the pilots by sponsoring a contest to
promote the value of life and peace.
The number of entrants to the speech contest has increased dramatically since
1990, and over 2,100 people submitted draft speeches for the 2004 contest. The
contest has three divisions: junior high school, high school, and adult. Much of
the growth in contestants has occurred with junior high school and high school
students, as teachers in Kagoshima Prefecture actively promote the contest.
Four final contestants in each division are selected to give speeches in
Chiran on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. These
final contestants receive cash awards and get all travel expenses paid to
Chiran. The prize amounts vary by division, and the contest judges award first
prize, second prize, and two third prizes for each division. The first-prize
winner in the adult division receives 300 thousand yen (about US$2,700).
Adult and high school contestants must submit written speech drafts of about
2,000 Japanese characters (5 pages), and junior high school students
submit drafts of 1,200 to 1,600 characters (3-4 pages). A screening committee
reviews speech drafts and selects the best eight in each division. Contestants
then must submit cassette tapes of their speeches, and another committee then
selects each division's best four speeches to be presented in Chiran. The best
eight speeches in each division are published in a book and on the Chiran Town
Contest speeches have themes related to the importance of peace and respect
for life. More than half of the speeches mention kamikaze pilots or other
aspects of World War II such as the fire bombings of Japanese cities or the
atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, many speeches deal with
current issues related to the value of peace and life without mention of the
war. Many speeches related to the war and kamikaze pilots make reference to the
wartime experiences of a speaker's family or relatives.
The Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots provides most of the funds for
the speech contest prizes and expenses. The tourism section of the Chiran Town
Hall coordinates correspondence and publicity related to the speech contest.
Many local residents and teachers actively support the speech contest.
This web site presents English translations of selected winning speeches from