So Brexit happened. I don’t think I really need to share my personal opinions on this matter, do I? I would only echo the 161,141,241 people who felt the same way I did. Except that I wasn’t one of the 161,141,241, because I’m not a UK citizen.
I’ve been eligible to vote for 10 years now, and yet I’ve never cast a vote in my life. This fact fills me with a sense of guilt and helplessness, but I’m not sure how I could do things differently.
As a Japanese citizen, I am legally not able to have dual citizenship. I could apply for UK or French citizenship (I may have to wait another year or two to qualify for the French), but that would mean giving up my Japanese passport, and that’s something I am not willing to do. It’s a citizenship that causes me absolutely no trouble wherever I go, and there has never been any reason for me to give it up for another.
Except that I can’t vote in a country that I’ve lived in for two thirds of my life, and I can’t have a voice in something as seismic as the EU referendum. I’m not complaining – I clearly have a choice to change my citizenship, and I choose not to – it’s just a fact.
You’re probably thinking, then why haven’t you ever voted in Japan? It’s a good question, and perhaps I should. But I left Japan when I was so young, and have a profoundly different connection to the country in terms of its politics and future. Most importantly, I am absolutely not educated enough about Japanese politics to be able to make any decisions, although that is something I am responsible for. It’s just difficult to feel passionate enough to educate myself about it, which makes me feel like some kind of traitor or at the very best, ignorantly apathetic.
I have no excuses, but nor do those who can cast an informed and significant vote but don’t, nor those who voted for Leave and then had buyer’s remorse because they had no idea what they were actually voting for. These two things are so upsetting, but perhaps I belong in the former and so I’m simply being a hypocrite? It’s something that comes from being an expat kid and not ever really knowing where you “belong”, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
Do you know what I can do though, as a UK resident? Sign this petition. If you haven’t already and feel the same way as I do (which is that leaving the EU is a catastrophic mistake), please sign it, whether you’re a citizen or a resident. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe something will.
p.s. please watch John Oliver’s take on Brexit. It’s hilarious.