The ESU and Debating

The English-Speaking Union (ESU) has been playing a prominent role in introducing Parliamentary style debating not only in schools throughout the UK but also in over 40 countries throughout the world.  Shortly after the Second World War, ESU supported the tours of debaters from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to the USA.  ESU continues to administer the tours of the UK Debating Squad, a team of the very best debaters from all British Universities, in order to promote international understanding through debating and the widening use of English.  With the close cooperation of ESU and ESUJ (English-Speaking Union of Japan), the UK Debating Squad has participated as judges and mentors at the annual ESUJ University Debating Competition for the past 19 years.

The ESUJ and Parliamentary Debate

ESUJ has played an active and leading role for the promotion of Parliamentary style debating in Japan. The first ESUJ University Debating Competition was held in 1998 as an opening event for the establishment of the English-Speaking Union of Japan.  Four of UK’s best university student debaters and Mr. Trevor Sather of the ESU were invited to adjudicate the competition and to do model debates in Tokyo and the Kansai area.  
The ESUJ University Debating Competition is held every year in October at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo. Every year four top UK debaters are chosen by ESU to judge the Competition. Japanese debaters from universities throughout Japan participate in this challenging event and the winners are awarded a tour to the UK to actually experience debating in the UK as well as visit sites such as the Houses of Parliament, Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
ESUJ also hosts the annual ESUJ Debating Competition for Shakaijin.  This is the only Parliamentary style English debating competition held in Japan for adults.  English has become essential for global communication and business.  ESUJ offers a variety of workshops and seminars for companies and organizations to help promote the use of the English language.

What is Parliamentary Debate?

Parliamentary Debate, as its name suggests, is modeled on the British Parliamentary System. Accordingly, motions begin with a phrase such as “This House believes that...”, or “This House would...” (Here, “House” refers to the Parliament).
A team is called either Proposition or Opposition depending on the side it is given.  Both sides are comprised of two debaters who are modeled members of the House. In the same way as the Parliament, the Proposition supports the motion while the Opposition opposes it. Debaters of each side try to persuade judges to vote for their side within a limited period of time. Debaters will speak in the following order. 
■ First Proposition (Prime Minister) Speech 7 minutes
■ Second Proposition (Member of the Government) Speech   7 minutes
■ First Opposition (Leader of the Opposition) Speech 7 minutes
■ Second Opposition (Member of the Opposition) Speech 7 minutes
■ Opposition Reply Speech 4 minutes
■ Proposition Reply Speech 4 minutes
Constructive Speeches
The first four speeches are the constructive speeches. In the First Proposition Speech, the First Proposition Speaker defines the terms of the motion and presents a case for debate. The First Opposition Speaker must refute the Proposition’s analysis presented by the First Proposition Speaker, and provide an argumentation which supports their side.  The role of the members is to refute the other side and reconstruct their own stance.
Both speakers on a team can offer Points of Information when they wish to give or ask for information relevant to what the opponent speaker on the floor has said in his/her constructive speech. The speaker on the floor has the right to accept or decline the point.
Reply Speeches
The purpose of the Reply Speeches is to crystallize all the arguments and show judges why her/his team has won the round. No new constructive arguments may be presented.
In a Parliamentary Debate, emphasis is placed on quick thinking and logical argumentation. It requires skills and a sense of humour in order to grab the attention of the audience and persuade them effectively.
Rules and Adjudication
Please refer to the ESUJ Debating Competition Handbook.