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‘Identity’ – the collection of beliefs and qualities that define who we are. Nationality is part of our identity but rarely do we stop to challenge our ideas about nationality and national identity. Pausing to consider the deeper meaning of being ‘British’ and ‘Japanese’ inspires many important questions that relate to today's world.
Rapidly progressing society means that we see cultural shifts in values, beliefs, and even appearance as the trend of globalisation continues. Perhaps this has inspired the global rise in far-right nationalist movements and the rhetoric of preserving and protecting national identity. This comes to the question we wish to ask: ‘what is national identity?’ Is it a response to an insecurity in national identity, a realisation that is hard to define? What happens if traditional ideas about being ‘British’ or ‘Japanese’ no longer fit our contemporary thought?
Through our conference, we hope to break down the concept of national identity, and what it truly means to be ‘British’ or ‘Japanese’ despite various issues faced by both the UK and Japan, including marginalised groups, ageing population, harmful gender stereotypes, polarisation between political parties, the social gap between different classes, ongoing racism and discrimination and much more. All these issues brings us to our key question: Are they the inevitable problems that eventually each nation will encounter? While nations progress in their self-identification process, will these problems necessarily arise? The UK-JP Student Conference 2023 will be exploring the differences and similarities of both nations, and by approaching the topic from diverse perspectives, we hope to construct a clearer picture of the national identity, and our own identity as their citizens. We look outwards to our countries and their people, and inwards towards ourselves. We ask, what is the national identity that our countries will carry forward and present to the world? Through attempting to analyse and define national identity, we recognise aspects worth celebrating and sharing. We also identify areas where we are lacking, and where exchanges between our countries can improve our weaknesses and strengthen our relationships.