Special Ceremony Confers Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation to York University Scholar
Prof. Norio Ota of York University (second from left) along with
Consul-General Yasunori Nakayama (second from right),
Rev. Frances Ota, wife of Prof. Ota (far left)
and Mrs. Chizuko Nakayama (far right).
A special ceremony was held on Sept. 18 at the official residence of Consul-General of Japan Yasunori Nakayama to confer the commendation from Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs to Prof. Norio Ota of York University. Prof. Ota was given this esteemed recognition for his development of Japanese language pedagogy and for promoting greater understanding of and goodwill toward Japan.
After developing a career as a Japanese language instructor in Japan, the United States, Australia and Vietnam, Prof. Ota came to Toronto in 1984 and began teaching at York University. At the time, there was not much awareness of the Japanese language program at the university, with a total of only 150 students among all grade levels. Under Prof. Ota’s leadership, the Japanese courses began to place the language in cultural contexts, and incorporated a method known as the communicative empathic approach. Through such innovation, the number of students has grown to over 500.
Prof. Ota also helped to establish York University’s exchange programs with Meiji University, Dokkyo University, Keio University, and Waseda University. He also was a pioneer in putting language courses online, and established the first honours minor degree program in Japanese Studies in Canada. He also took part in organizing the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest for 20 years, and has supported the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Proficiency Test since 1997.
About 60 guests attended the ceremony, including Prof. Ota's family as well as representatives of Toronto's academic community and businesses and associations that have supported such activities as the Ontario Japanese Language Speech Contest.
Consul-General Yasunori Nakayama extends his congratulations.
Prof. Norio Ota expresses his appreciation for the commendation.
The Hon. Dr. Lorna Marsden (right), President Emerita of York University
raises a toast to Prof. Ota.
Guests enjoy a reception which followed the ceremony.