Japanese & Politics/Religious Studies Personal Statement
England and Japan are two immensely contrasting worlds: this distinctiveness is why the undeniable magic of Japanese culture has always attracted me to study its oriental societies and traditions. I have been enthralled by the Japanese language since I was a young teenager; reading 'Japanese for Busy People' at school and trying to note down homework reminders in Kanji, anything to incorporate Japanese into my daily life.
As I grew, so did my desire to study Japanese culture and society. Yukio Mishima's politically aware novel 'Confessions of a Mask' captivated me. I found the contrast between the effeminate main character Kochan and the uber-masculine male figures present in teenage Japanese media refreshing. As a student of English I could better understand Mishima's style and nuance, empathising with Kochan's oppression in an era of Japanese right-wing militarism. This is where my political interests began; through independent study I became absorbed in political history, with particular attraction to the way Japan avoided colonisation by becoming an industrial superpower.
Studying English has helped me to introduce a succinctness into my writing and speech which has complimented my study of the Japanese language; my natural flair for creative writing saw me win two regional poetry competitions and a 'Young Black Achiever's' award for outstanding achievement in English. This has helped me to approach my independent study of politics with an analytical mind, which is crucial when criticising political theories. Understanding international relations has become very important to me through the study of globalisation in Geography. I found the energy module fascinating as it related to the horrific nuclear disaster Japan faced earlier this year; I enjoyed discussing Naoto Kan's call for Japan to become a less nuclear dependant country and the response of non-governmental organisations to the crisis.
I regularly use Japan as a case study to familiarise myself with writing about Asian politics and economics, which has developed my understanding of Japanese society. My Religious Studies A-level has helped me to understand how philosophy can influence the greater world through politics, such as the use of the 'Just War Theory' by politicians during discussions of the war in Libya. My independent research in Buddhism and Confucianism has helped me to understand how Japanese and Asian civilisation has developed; I am intrigued that Japan can be so urbanised while retaining such deeply spiritual communities.
Being elected as a Year Representative in year 11 gave me a taste of diplomacy, a career path I would like to follow; I thoroughly enjoy debating issues which affect the student body. I was pleased to win the debating competition in my school; ever since I came second in the regional 'Primary Parliament' competition I have always held an affinity for public speaking and debating. I volunteered to give tours of Nottingham to foreign visitors, such as German students from our twin city and a student from Tokyo. Similarly, I have Japanese pen pals who I email and plan to meet next August in Japan.
In preparation for this and my undergraduate studies, I will be taking a Japanese language course with a local tutor. Also, I intend to apply to the JET programme to gain experience teaching in Japan after my degree. I find teaching through playing music a very enriching experience and every Wednesday afternoon I help teach the violin to year eight pupils, as well as performing in a chamber choir.
My ambition to work in diplomacy is driven by an unimpeded spirit, thriving on the idea of increasing stability in a complex and ever-changing global environment; I believe the key to this stability lies in strong communication between Oriental and Occidental societies. A Japanese degree would offer me the challenge of studying a beautifully complex language and a culture which thoroughly fascinates me.
I really wanted a balance between academic and personal. I also felt current affairs are important devices to use in a personal statement.