Here is the final round from the East-West tournament in early June. We were invited to judge, but had some difficulty with the format. Here are some things to keep in mind as you watch the clip.
1. The clip begins with the entry of the 11 judge final round panel. Everyone stands up and applauds them, and as they come in they distribute copies of their judging philosophies to the debaters. This gives the debaters only a few minutes to make adaptations in strategy. There is a short moment of polling of the judges by the Negative team in Japanese, and the judges raised their hands to indicate their agreement with the statements.
2. Yes, the debate is in English! In Academic debate (what the Japanese call policy debate) the pronunciation of words has its own very difficult accent. The judges and the participants have developed their own pronunciation for English words over the years. They told me that we might have trouble understanding because the competition often favors "Japanese-English" - which is what they call this way of speaking. I have great difficulty understanding most of these speeches. I don't think Academic Debate is very interested in teaching English speaking so much at this level, similar to how policy debate has little interest in teaching good public speaking skills in the U.S.
3. Topicality is a challenge to a debate over definitions. It has little to do with the plan. Academic debate is pretty lacking in theory debate. Everyone is a hypo tester, and the T argument challenges the Aff to a battle over interpretation of words. That's why the second T violation sounds so strange - she basically reads definitions for half the resolution, so it's multiple challenges in one. The Aff handles it pretty well in the 2AC by lumping it as a debate about the meaning of "Japanese Government."
4. Counterplans claim mutual exclusivity, but what they really mean is resolutional competition. That is, you can't endorse the resolution and the counterplan at the same time. More like a counterwarrant that has just crawled up on the beach from the primordial sea than a modern counterplan.
5. At the end is every policy debater's dream - the chairperson asks "Is there any appeal from the Negative?" - After the 2AR the Negative is given one last opportunity to appeal to the judges, especially indicating new arguments in the 2AR. Amazing. Rarely do Negative teams invoke this opportunity, I was told.
6. I love the fact that they have people coloring in boxes of chalk on the board to indicate prep time use! Gives it a very game-show feel don't you think?