Seminar Series 2015:
Diversity in Japan and the UK: Pros and Cons
Japan and the UK are very different in terms of diversity. Japan remains, to a large extent, a monoethnic society with clearly understood social norms that are often very different from those in the rest of the world. The UK, by contrast, has absorbed waves of immigration over the centuries, leaving it with a rich mixture of ethnic and cultural traditions. Japan is also known as a country that places great weight on consensus – where “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. The UK has much greater tolerance of a wide variety of different lifestyles.
Both approaches have their advantages, but now Japan faces, arguably, the necessity to accept more immigrants to cushion its declining population, and to internationalise sectors such as business and higher education. Japan is also being pressed to increase working opportunities for its highly-educated women, and to be more accepting of different lifestyles and challenges to consensus. In the UK, meanwhile, the idea that diversity has its limits is starting to enter the political mainstream in recent years. The rise of UKIP, in particular, reflects a view in some quarters that Britain, and traditional British values, are being undermined by excessive immigration and EU-imposed laws. On the religious front, militant Islam is also a growing cause of concern.
Our seminar series this year focuses on the positive and negative aspects of diversity, and the implications for Japan of adopting a more UK-style approach.