HomeEntertainmentRina Sawayama Criticises Eligibility Rules For British Awards

Rina Sawayama Criticises Eligibility Rules For British Awards

Rina Sawayama criticises eligibility rules for music British awards such as the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards as she was not able to enter them at all despite living in the UK for the last 25 years.

Rina Sawayama criticises eligibility rules for music British awards such as the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards as she was not able to enter them at all despite living in the UK for the last 25 years.

British-Japanese singer Rina Sawayama has recently revealed in an exclusive interview with Vice that she is not eligible for the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards due to her immigration status.

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Rina Sawayama moved to the UK from Japan when she was a small child and she is on an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) visa in the UK, which grants permanent residency and a right to live and work in the country.

Rina would have dual citizenship but Japan doesn’t allow dual nationality and she does not want to officially cut ties with her place of birth.

She explained: “I have no family in the UK, they all live in Japan. So getting rid of my Japanese passport genuinely feels like I’m severing ties with them.”

Fans were disappointed at not seeing Rina’s album titled ‘SAWAYAMA’ on the Mercury Prize shortlist last week, even Elton John took to Instagram to post about how she had been ‘overlooked’. –

Speaking about when she found out she wasn’t eligible as “heartbreaking”, Rina said: “I rarely get upset to the level where I cry. And I cried.”

Back in 2019 when Rina Sawayama’s record label Dirty Hit had asked her what she wanted for her first album and she told them: “I want to win a Mercury Award.”

The terms and conditions for the Mercury Prize, ‘solo artists must have British or Irish nationality to enter the competition’, but their rules around its nationality clause for bands where ‘only 30 percent of the members need to be British or Irish as long as over half of the band resides in the UK’.

The BRITs nationality clause in their terms and conditions state: “To be eligible for the British Solo Artists categories or other British categories, artists must be UK passport holders.”

Rina said in her interview with Vice: “All I remember is living here, I’ve just lived here all my life. I went to summer school in Japan, and that’s literally it.”

“But I feel like I’ve contributed to the UK in a way that I think is worthy of being celebrated, or at least being eligible to be celebrated.” – Rina added.

It’s worth noting that Rina was the recipient of a BPI Music Export Growth Scheme, which is a grant that supports British musicians and music organisations. BPI also happens to be the industry body that organises both the Mercury Prize and BRIT Awards.

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In response to Sawayama’s case, a BPI (British Phonographic Industry) spokesperson commented: “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,” but that does not mean that they will change their rules any time soon unless given a reason to.

Today ‘SAWAYAMA’ is one of the top-rated albums on Metacritic, though it will not be officially recognized in the UK. Rina says she wants to speak up and challenge the nationality eligibility clause because she doesn’t want other musicians to see themselves in her position.

ViaVice
Alice Campbell for SurgeZirc UK
Alice Campbell for SurgeZirc UK
Alice Campbell is a highly skilled and experienced royal writer, currently working with SurgeZirc UK. With a passion for journalism and a keen interest in the royal family, Alice has established herself as a prominent figure in the field.
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Tommy
Tommy
3 years ago

Can she really claim to be British though?

Zack
Zack
3 years ago

Seems like she has to choose between keeping her ties with her birth place or making her career somewhere else…shame

Cassie
Cassie
3 years ago

Such a tricky situation, I think it’s a bit strict though

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