British-Japanese Pop Star ‘Ineligible’ For Mercury Prize

British-Japanese Pop Star 'Ineligible' For Mercury Prize
Image credit: Rina Sawayama & Vevo

The British-Japanese pop star Rina Sawayama has been told that she is ‘ineligible’ for Mercury prize because she does not hold a British passport. Tara Pilkington reports.

The up-and-coming pop star Sawayama has lived in the UK for 25 years and holds indefinite leave to remain. However, since Japan prohibits people from holding dual nationality, Sawayama has retained her Japanese passport in order to feel close to her family and honour her heritage.

The Mercury organising body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) stipulates in its rules that solo artists must have British or Irish nationality to enter the competition and need to submit official documentation of citizenship.

Sawayama has commented saying that she did initially contemplate renouncing her Japanese citizenship in order to become eligible until she realised that it wouldn’t “solve anything” and that she disagreed with “this definition of Britishness”.

Sawayama would also be ineligible for the British categories at the Brit awards, however, she would be eligible for the international categories.

A BPI spokesperson said: “Both the Brit awards and the Hyundai Mercury prize aim to be as inclusive as possible within their parameters, and their processes and eligibility criteria are constantly reviewed.”

Listen to a track from Rina Sawayama below: