I never had any conflict about my nationality or national identity. This puts me in a slightly awkward position, knowing many living in Japan with a similar background to myself is feeling conflicted. I may have many problems, but national identity isn't one.
I was born in Japan to an English father and a Japanese mother. My mother fought on my behalf so I could gain my Japanese nationality that I rightfully should have had from the start.
But what I come to realise is that nationality and national identity (which are intertwined yet separate things in my opinion) do not rely on a leather-bound book or recognition of old men in grey suits with archaic thoughts and opinions.
I grew up speaking in English at home (even with my Japanese mother) and speaking in Japanese at school, naturally growing up as a bilingual. Like many mixed-race person, I was bullied simply for my katakana surname and my appearance. And yet I made friends that 25 years after leaving Japan, am still firm friends with and one I call my best friend for life. I don't remember my bullies, why waste spaces in my memories with something so unpleasant. They don't deserve to be remembered by me.
And as far as I recall, I never wanted to be 'pure' Japanese or British as result of the bullying, I was just sad that I was not accepted as I am by some people.
I always identified myself having two nationalities, that never changed and never will. I am both Japanese and British. That is how I am and always will be (But as you can guess from me writing this in English, perhaps my British side is winning)
National identity and character I possess, however, changed when I moved to UK. Because having different ethnic background was no longer unusual. I was accepted.
Our family moved to UK when I was 15 years old and that was one of the biggest change I had in my life; my English was good enough but my lack of confidence in company of kids who spoke their mind even to adults made me retreat into my shell. It wasn't until I went to university, living in the dorm away from my parents and forced to stand on my two feet, that I started being more real 'me'. I started becoming less Japanese and Britishness started creeping into my national character.
I am polite. I smile a lot when situation doesn't call do it. I am sarcastic. My humour is pretty dark. I love irony. I love both milk tea and green tea. I love rice (only the proper Japanese ones) and umeboshi above all food. I love both Japan and UK, and I hate both too.
What makes me identify my Japanese side most is food and culture; I love Japanese food above everything. I read current manga and novels in Japanese, when I jot down a quick note at work it's in Japanese. And I look forever young in eyes of people here thanks to my Asian DNA.
My British side is humour, cynicism, attitude; starting with Monty Python, I fell in love British sense of humour. The naturally sharp wit British people possess became part of me. I cannot watch Japanese comedy programmes without wondering where the intelligence in it is – British by large are superior for its irony, sharpness and intellect in their humour.
And I choose to remain in UK.
I love Japan. I love its tradition-steeped life. I love the scenery, the order in society, the rich history and culture, the kindness of people. But though I get homesick and I visit Japan every few years, I will never live there again. UK is not perfect (hello Brexit). Racism and hate crime exist like any country and it has plenty of bad things that I hate. But at least women are treated more as equal even in its imperfect society. I simply cannot comprehend how Japan is low in gender equality. I get why it's low, what I don't get is how it has not improved. And obviously, no one questions my multiple nationalities here unlike Japan.
My daughter is 3 years old. I never bothered to speak to her in Japanese fully because her father doesn't, and the only person she will ever speak in Japanese will be me and my mother. I find expressing myself easier in English most of the time so naturally I speak to my girl in English. All I ask from my daughter is to be proud that her mum and grandmother are from Japan and Japan to be part of her heritage.
So, this is me. British and Japanese, neither and both at the same time. I own it and I am proud of it.