This annual essay contest is organized in an effort to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of the world’s youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. It also aims to inspire society to learn from the young minds and to think about how each of us can make a difference in the world.

* This program is an activity within the framework of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030).



“What is Life?”

What does life mean to you? Have you had an experience that made you think about the meaning of life? What kinds of things can you do to cherish and invigorate your own life and all life on earth?

Guidelines 1. Essays may be submitted by anyone up to 25 years old (as of June 15, 2021) in one of the following age categories: a) Children (ages up to 14)  b) Youth (ages 15 – 25)
2. Essays must be 700 words or less in English or French, or 1600 characters or less in Japanese. Essays must be typed, with your name and essay title included at the top of the first page.

There are no particular rules regarding formatting (font style, size, line space, etc.). However, essays must be submitted in either MS Word (DOC/DOCX) or PDF format.

* Your name and essay title are not included in the word count limit.

3. Entries must be submitted online. To send your essay online, you must go to the online registration page, and follow the required steps. Entries submitted by postal mail or e-mail are not accepted.

Teachers and youth directors may submit a collection of essays from their class or group by creating an ‘account for school/organization entrant’ on the online registration page.

* Only one entry per person is accepted.
* We are unable to confirm receipt of essays.

4. Essays must be original and unpublished. Plagiarized entries will be rejected.
5. Essays must be written by one person. Co-authored essays are not accepted.
6. Copyright of the essays entered will be assigned to the organizer.
7. If you have questions, please consult the FAQs section below.
Deadline Entries must be received by June 15, 2021 (23:59 your local time).
Awards The following awards will be given in the Children’s category and Youth category respectively:
1st Prize: Certificate, prize of 100,000 Yen (approx. US$900 as of March 2021) and gift … 1 entrant
2nd Prize: Certificate, prize of 50,000 Yen (approx. US$450 as of March 2021) and gift … 3 entrants
3rd Prize: Certificate and gift … 5 entrants
Honorable Mention: Certificate and gift … 25 entrants

* 1st to 3rd prize winners will be invited to the Winners Gathering to be held online.
* Additional awards (Best School Award, School Incentive Award) will be given if applicable.
* All prize winners will be announced on October 31, 2021 (Japan time) on this website. Certificates and gifts will be mailed to the winners in December 2021.
* We are unable to answer individual inquiries concerning contest results.

Organized by

The Goi Peace Foundation

Endorsed by

the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan
Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, Japan Private High School Federation
Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Inc

Supported by


Essay Contest 2021 Flyer (PDF)


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1Are there any exceptions to the age limit for participating in the contest?
A1No, you must be 25 years old or younger as of June 15, 2021, which is the entry deadline date. That means you must be born after June 15, 1995. On the other hand, there is no minimum age requirement.

Q2Is there a fee for participating in this contest?
A2No, participation is free of charge.

Q3Do I have to be Japanese or Asian to join the contest?
A3No, all nationalities can participate from anywhere in the world.

Q4My essay is a little over 700 words. Is it acceptable?
A4No, essay must be 700 words or less in order to qualify. However, your name and essay title are excluded from the word count.

Q5Are my name and essay title included in the word count limit?
A5No, the 700 word count limit is for the body of the essay only.

Q6Do I need a cover page for my essay?
A6No, a cover page is not required. Please just include your name and essay title at the top of the first page of your essay.

Q7Can I give any title to my essay?
A7Yes, you can give your essay an original title as long as the content is in line with the theme.

Q8Is there a specific format for the essay (font style, size, line space, etc.)?
A8There are no particular rules regarding formatting. However, your essay file should be in either MS Word(DOC/DOCX) or PDF format.

Q9Is there a specific style for the essay?
A9No. Essays may be in any style (thesis or prose, academic or literary), as long as the content is in line with the theme.

Q10Can I quote from books or websites? If so, where should I write the reference?
A10If you use quotations, please include the reference at the bottom of the essay. The reference should not be included in the word count.

Q11Can I add photos, images, or my biography to my essay?
A11No. Please send your essay only.

Q12Can I submit my essay via email or postal mail?
A12No, we do not accept entries by email or postal mail. Please submit your essay through the online registration page.

Q13Can I submit a hand-written essay?
A13No. Please submit a typed essay in either MS Word(DOC/DOCX) or PDF format.

Q14Can I submit more than one essay?
A14No, only one entry per person is accepted.

Q15Can I submit my essay in my native language?
A15Essays are accepted in English, French or Japanese only. However, we can accept essays written in other languages (including Spanish and German that were previously accepted), if they are accompanied by translations in one of the accepted languages.

Q16Can we co-write and submit one essay as a team?
A16No. The essay must be written by one person. Co-authored essay are not accepted.

Q17I did not receive a confirmation email after submitting my essay. How can I make sure that my essay has been successfully submitted and received?
A17You will not receive a confirmation email after submitting your essay. However, you can check if your essay has been successfully submitted by logging in and clicking on the “Essay List” (“My Essay” or “School List”) on the side menu. If your essay has been successfully submitted, it will appear on the list. To make sure that the correct essay is linked, click on “View Essay”on the list.

Q18Can I obtain a certificate of participation?
A18Yes, you can download your certificate of participation from the online registration page after submitting your essay. (Download is available until December 31, 2021.)

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