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7th Contest (2016): Screening and final selection, General remarks by the judges, Awards Ceremony

Screening and final selection

The painting contest, which has celebrated its seventh year this year, received 13,739 entries from all over the world (1,407 entries from Japan and 12,332 entries from overseas). After the preliminary selection process, the final selection process took place on October 17, 2016.
The hall, with a full array of the entries from all over the world, was quite a scene. Selections were made, based on whether the entries expressed a desire for improving the earth's environment, and whether they offered any fresh perspectives in thinking on environmental issues.
The six judges took a careful and detailed look at each entry. The selection process proceeded in a strict manner, while some entries impressed or stunned the judges with their childlike, pure expressions.
Even though the entries had a common theme of environmental issues, there were various expressions and perspectives. Some entries acutely reflected their cultures, while other entries had the power to take on the role of becoming cultural ambassadors themselves.
Finally, of the 400 or so entries, one "eco together" - Planet Earth Grand Prix, eight "eco together" - Kao Prize and 24 Eco Friend Prize winners were selected.

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Scenes from preliminary screening

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Scene from the final selection screening

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Judges discuss the merits of the top works

General remarks by the judges

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Mr. Fumikazu Masuda
Chair of Judges
Former Professor, Tokyo Zokei University

This is the seventh time this contest has been held. Each time, the contest's character and direction becomes clearer. They felt clear especially this time. It was good to see many picturesque paintings that secretly harbored strong messages, as well as those that strongly appealed to protect the environment. It feels greatly rewarding to be a judge of paintings that exhibit these qualities, as the numbers of entries in this contest increase. Even though this is a contest for children, I hope it will gain recognition as an opportunity to observe each area's lives and attitudes toward the environment.

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Ms. Sumiko Okubo
Artist

With the popularization of smartphones, I feel a sense of warning, as people seem to immerse themselves further and further in devices with the Internet and games. I do not intend to deny them all, but lately, it feels as if the importance of coexistence with nature is being taken ever more lightly. However, as I viewed the entries of this contest, these feelings gradually diminished and I felt more at ease. It is desirable for today's children to have opportunities to do something with their own hands, to see things with their own eyes, and face nature earnestly. Even for that purpose alone, I hope this contest prevails further.

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Mr. Kei Matsushita
Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts

People talk about globalization lately but culture originally takes roots locally. When we focus too much on globalism, we could lose the sense of who we should really be. This time, there were many entries with a sense of and focus on reality and daily living, instead of detailed propositions about changing society. The world is made of images, more than logic. The images are created by each person visualizing realities in each region, seen at one's eye level. The children's paintings showed different forms of happiness from around the world.

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Ms. Yoko Oyamada
Illustrator

I felt it a good sign that there were more entries appreciating native cultures and delving into daily living. The contest accepts entries from children up to the age of 15, but the 15-year olds who entered the first contest are now 22. They may be working already. They may have taken real action like engaging in environment-related work, motivated by their entry in this contest when they had to face environmental issues earnestly. When we consider the fact that we are entering this kind of age, I cannot help but think the value of this contest will only continue to rise.

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Ms. Akemi Ishiwata
Executive Officer & Senior Vice President,
Corporate Communications, Kao Corporation

It is 7 years since Kao announced the company's Environmental Statement in 2009. The thinking about the environment and eco-friendliness is beginning to change in the world. Things that we used to do from a sense of duty, are now becoming somewhat second nature. This trend was clearly felt through the entries this time, and I marveled at the high level of children's awareness. What kind of world will these children live in when they grow up to be adults? This contest gave me a chance to think about the responsibility we adults have to children, as our attitudes and behavior affect their awareness of the environment, and about what we should do as a company to these children who will carry the load for the coming generations.

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Mr. Naoto Katahira
Director, Creative, Kao Corporation

Each time, I feel this contest has become a good opportunity for people to learn about others' perspectives, influenced by past paintings, and gathering clues on environmental issues. This time, we saw more entries that seemed to review their own cultures and initiatives with new perspectives. What is wonderful is that these paintings contain expressions unseen in these residential areas before, yet entail new perspectives and inspirations unique to those residential areas. I would be very glad if the awarded entries this time inspire the children who view them, and motivate them to enter the contest again to show the wonderful aspects of their cultures.

Awards Ceremony for 7th Painting Contest

Kao exhibited the award-winning entries at Kao's booth at EcoPro 2016 (Tokyo Big Sight) held between Thursday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 10. The awards ceremony took place on Dec. 10, the final day of the event.

The nine children who painted the entries that won the top prizes "eco together" - Planet Earth Grand Prix and "eco together" - Kao Prize attended the awards ceremony on Dec. 10. A networking event took place before the award ceremony. When Fumikazu Masuda, Chair of Judges, and Kao Corporation President and CEO Michitaka Sawada shared with each child their impressions of the child's entry, the children spoke amply about the messages and thoughts expressed in their paintings, with a big smile on their face.

In the award ceremony that followed, Masuda commented that he was impressed by many artful entries with implicit messages about the environment. The seventh contest marked the highest number of entries ever in the contest's history. Masuda's comment suggested the high level of the entries.

After Sawada awarded commemorative plaques and gifts to the winners, Akira Kobayashi, winner of the "eco together" - Planet Earth Grand Prix award, gave a speech. Speaking of his own entry, he said "The motif is the large tree that I always watched from the window of the art room of my school. It is no longer there, though, because it got chopped down. I wanted to paint the tree, which is still in my heart." Akira's entry has an impressive image of a large tree that is full of life, but Akira's story taught us about his nurturing, warm views towards nature.

In the interviews following the awards ceremony, each winner spoke of the environment of their residential areas, and of the messages they expressed in their paintings.

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Grand Prix winner Akira Kobayashi 
delivering his speech

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"eco together"-Kao Prize winner
Ayda Afza receiving her award plaque

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Interview session
with all the top award winners

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Prizewinners group commemorative photo
with judging committee Chair Masuda(left)
and President and CEO Sawada (right)

You can see the presentation of the winning works at the following page.

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