A HALF-Indian woman has been crowned Miss Japan, in a second victory in a row for biracial entrants into the East Asian country’s prestigious beauty pageant.
Priyanka Yoshikawa, 22, discovered she had won the award on Monday (September 5), and said she would use her win to “change perceptions”.
She credited her win to last year’s victor, Ariana Miyamoto, who was the first mixed-race person to win the Miss Japan pageant, saying she had helped show “mixed girls the way”.
Ms Miyamoto’s victory was unprecedented in Japan, where only about 2% of babies born every year are biracial, or “haafu”, the Japanese word for half.
It caused a storm on social media with critics complaining then that a “pure” Japanese should have won.
News of Ms Yoshikawa’s win did not trigger the same level of backlash that Ms Miyamoto received on social media, though some users took to Twitter to complain that Ms Yoshikawa had ‘zero national characteristics’.
But Ms Yoshikawa, whose father is Indian, said she knew a lot of people who were haafu and still suffered discrimination, adding she hoped to change perceptions.
She told news outlet AFP: “When I’m abroad, people never ask me what mix I am. As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too.”
The pageant winner, who is also an avid kick-boxer and a qualified elephant trainer, added she was not letting critics of her victory get her down.
She said: “There was a time as a kid when I was confused about my identity. But I’ve lived in Japan so long now I feel Japanese.”