A glamorous lady with an Indian father and a Japanese mother was crowned Miss Japan on Monday, encouraging racial uniformity in the nation. Priyanka Yoshikawa‘s tearful triumph comes a year after Ariana Miyamoto confronted a monstrous reaction for turning into the main black lady to represent Japan.
Social networking lit up after Ms. Miyamoto’s trailblazing triumph as pundits griped that Miss Universe Japan ought to rather have been won by an “pure” Japanese as opposed to a “haafu” — the Japanese for “half“, a word used to depict blended race.
“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” Priyanka Yoshikawa told AFP in an interview.
“That’s what I thought too. I didn’t doubt it or challenge it until this day. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and showing all mixed girls the way.”
Priyanka Yoshikawa, born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, pledged to proceed with the battle against racial bias in homogenous Japan, where multiracial kids make up only two percent of those born yearly.
“I think it means we have to let it in,” said the 22-year-old when asked what it signified for her and Miyamoto to break down cultural barriers.
“We are Japanese. Yes, I’m half Indian and people are asking me about my ‘purity’ — yes, my dad is Indian and I’m proud of it, I’m proud that I have Indian in me. But that does not mean I’m not Japanese.”
Ms. Yoshikawa, like Ms. Miyamoto, was bullied because of her skin colour after returning to Japan aged 10 following three years in Sacramento and a further year in India.
“I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,” said Ms. Yoshikawa, an avid kick-boxer whose politician great-grandfather once welcomed Mahatma Gandhi for a two-week stay at their home in Kolkata.
“We have problems, we’ve been struggling and it hurts. When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ,” she added. “Like, if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.”
“When I’m abroad, people never ask me what mix I am,” said Priyanka Yoshikawa, who earned her elephant trainer’s licence recently.
“As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too. The number of people with mixed race is only going to increase, so people have to accept it.”
“There was a time as a kid when I was confused about my identity,” she admitted. “But I’ve lived in Japan so long now I feel Japanese.”