Beauty has no caste, creed or race! Half-Indian Priyanaka Yoshikawa just proved this absolutely true. For the second year in a row, a biracial woman has won a national beauty pageant in Japan as Japanese-Indian Priyanka Yoshikawa took out the coveted title of Miss Japan 2016.
Ms Priyanka Yoshikawa’s tearful victory comes a year after Ms Ariana Miyamoto faced an ugly backlash for becoming the first black woman to represent Japan, as critics complained that Miss Universe Japan should instead have been won by a “pure” Japanese rather than a haafu – Japanese for “half” – a word used to describe those of mixed race. “Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” Ms Yoshikawa said after winning the title. “That’s what I thought too. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and showing all mixed girls the way.”
Yoshikawa, 22, said the award was an opportunity to make a difference. “By joining Miss World Japan, it gives me the visibility and platform to realise my dream of changing the world,” she said.
But Yoshikawa may have to work on promoting change at home first, as some reacted to her win with anger, claiming she was not ‘truly’ Japanese. The show faced some serious allegations upon them like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner
Born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, Yoshikawa is what the Japanese call a ‘hafu’, derived from the English word for half.
The tension is reminiscent of last year’s competition when Ariana Miyamoto caused controversy by becoming the first biracial winner of Miss Universe Japan. Born of an African-American father and Japanese mother, Miyamoto said she struggled to be accepted.
“I was born and raised in Japan but, because of my skin, people think I’m a foreigner,” Miyamoto said. I was bullied a lot and even my friends didn’t want to hold hands with me because they thought my colour would rub off on them.”
Priyanka hopes to follow in Miyamoto’s footsteps by tackling racial prejudice in Japan and encouraging diversity. Keep your spirits high Priyanka!