Seminar Series 2015

Wednesday 17 June 2015
6:00pm – 7:00pm

How Diverse Are We?: Immigration in the UK and Japan

Drinks reception from 8:00pm

13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle (entrance facing Regent's Park), London NW1 4QP

Organised by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

In this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the British short film ‘Patriot’ has been nominated for the Short Film Palme d’Or.  The film tries to explore nationalism and extremism through the eyes of a child whose father is the leader of an anti-immigration extreme Right-wing group.  In Japan, a former government advisor wrote an article in a national newspaper arguing that Japan’s ageing society needs to import labour from abroad, but that it is better if immigrants live separately from the Japanese – prompting a shocked response, not least from the Embassy of South Africa in Japan.

Economic analyses generally suggest that immigrants bring benefits to their host countries, but is this true?  And what about from a social point of view?  Some argue that immigrants can be a source of trouble, increasing competition for jobs, and tending to cause increased crime rates.  Are they free-riding on the social welfare systems of host countries?  The issue of immigration was a major issue for all parties in the UK’s May general election. How ready is Japan to be a society like Britain, which accepts a diversity of races and cultures in society? And is British society really as accepting of diversity as it claims to be?

Summary of the seminar, Immigration in the UK and Japan, PDF

About the contributors

Bill Emmott

Bill Emmott is an independent writer, speaker and consultant on international affairs. After studying politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1975-78, Emmott moved to Nuffield College to do postgraduate research into the French Communist party’s spell in government in 1944-47. Emmott joined The Economist in 1980, and has worked in Brussels and Tokyo. From 1993 until 2006 he served as editor-in-chief for the publication. Of his six books on Japan, The Sun Also Sets: the limits to Japan’s Economic Power (1989) and The Sun Also Rises (2005) were bestsellers in Japanese. Now, he is involved with books, documentary films and the work of The Wake Up Foundation, a charity dedicated to education and communication about the decline of western societies.

Dr Kristin Surak

Dr Kristin Surak is a Senior Lecturer in Japanese Politics at SOAS, University of London who specialises in international migration, nationalism, culture, and political sociology. Her book Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice, published by Stanford University Press in 2013, received the Outstanding Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Asia. Before joining SOAS, she taught at UCLA and at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She comments regularly for the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, and Radio France International. Currently, her research compares migration regimes and temporary migrant labour programmes in East Asia and across the globe.  

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