Brexit

Jul 01,2016


I don't usually comment on current events, but this situation warrants it, even if there's no one reading.

Last month the United Kingdom declared itself free of the European Union, which decision inspired the ire of a great number of people within both the UK and the EU, particularly the young, and a lot of talk on this end about the economic forecast as a result of the referendum.

Just about all we hear on this archipelago is about the boost in the yen's buying power, which everyone decries as a terrible thing, and just about everyone here who has an opinion about it at all is against it, on the basis that it's 'bad for Japan'. As though the world should decide its policies based on what benefits Japan.

There was, apparently, a touch on the background of the decision, though it was minimal. It was admitted that it had something to do with England's lack of a voice in how many immigrants it has to accept, when it is already getting more than it can assimilate--but this was downplayed in favour of the economic repercussions of British independence. There is, of course, a double standard at work. Japan isn't taking in droves of Syrian refugees, last time I checked; it's universally understood that Japan has the right to choose its own destiny.

Now, what this means is that in ten years or twenty or fifty, England will still be England, though Germany will no longer be Germany, and France will almost certainly no longer be France.

The prevailing opinion voiced by the mainstream media here in Japan, and by the older generation, is that immigrants are unwelcome here but that it doesn't really matter whether 'foreign' countries are proposition nations, or biological entities, or both.

Contentiously, though, the younger generation have a much broader outlook everywhere, which is why opponents of the referendum like Sir Richard Branson are calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16. I can't think of many countries besides Turkey, though, where the average 16-year-old acts and functions like a responsible adult. Certainly not here, and not in Great Britain.

One of my students that age just last night, when presented with the hypothetical of Japan taking in thousands of immigrants from vastly different cultures, wholeheartedly approved. When asked if that wouldn't have the effect of changing Japan's culture, he guessed that the custom of bowing might weaken a bit.

The young believe in peace and harmony, and haven't seen from afar, or can't fathom, the consequences of a large-scale clash of cultures. It's lovely, in its way, that they are so willing to open their hearts and homeland; but it's naive and can't be sustained, least of all when they are brought face-to-face with the violence and cultural loss of the sort that continues at a frightening pace to dismantle Europe and its civilisation.

Or maybe I'm just getting old and conservative.

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