By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa (Courtesy of Japan Embassy in Manila)

MANILA – Apart from understanding the Japanese culture better, learning Nihongo could give Filipino youth the “competitive edge“ when applying for scholarships and jobs in Japan, Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa said Saturday.

Speaking at the Nihongo Fiesta 2023, the envoy told the more than a hundred Filipino Nihongo learners that they also have the potential to bridge the two countries closer by studying the language.

“Being able to communicate in Japanese makes you stand out and gives you a competitive edge when applying for Japanese jobs and scholarships. It can also break cultural barriers and allows you to establish meaningful connections and friendships with Japanese people and fellow Nihongo learners,” he said.

“I encourage you to continue to study the Japanese language. It may be difficult, but I believe that the rewards make the effort worthwhile,” he added.

Every year, Japan offers various scholarship and teaching exchange programs to Filipino nationals.

Among these is the Japan Exchange and Teaching program which employs a successful applicant either as an assistant language teacher or sports exchange advisor in Japan.

Benefits of Nihongo

Shanadey Fernandez of the De La Salle University-College of Liberal Arts, one of the teachers who participated in the event, relayed how fulfilling teaching the language is, seeing that it could provide more opportunities.

Her advice to aspiring Nihongo teachers is to “remember how you started liking the Japanese.”

“Keep that in mind so that you can express that to your students. Without the love and the fun and excitement — these feelings — I think it would be really hard to study the language,” she said.

“So as a teacher, let’s refresh ourselves always, go back and look back to how you started so that the students would also feel how important the Japanese language is and how it will help them in the future,” she added.

The day-long language festival at a mall in Mandaluyong City featured a Nihongo speech contest by Filipino students and professionals.

The event also showcased art and cultural activities, including a taiko (Japanese percussion instrument) performance by Leonard Eto. (PNA)