Priyanka Yoshikawa, a 22-year-old Indian-Japanese who holds an elephant trainer’s license, had the honor of being named Miss Japan 2016. She is the second half-Japanese to win the crown.
Yoshikawa is born to an Indian father and a Japanese mother in Tokyo, Yahoo News reported. She speaks fluent Japanese and English.
Angry netizens blurted:
“What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics.”
“It’s like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner.”
Yoshikawa is labeled “haafu,” the Japanese for “half” used to describe mixed race. She told AFP:
“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan. 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.”
“I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer. We have problems, we’ve been struggling and it hurts. When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ. Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.”
Despite being bullied, she stood proud of her identity:
“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.”
Yoshikawa vowed to continue rallying against racial prejudice in Japan. She is set to compete in Washington for the Miss World crown this December.