Half Indian Priyanka Yoshikawa Won Miss Japan Pageant

A 22-year-old with an Indian father and a Japanese mother was crowned Miss Japan on Monday, furthering racial equality in the country.

Priyanka Yoshikawa’s tearful victory comes a year after Ariana Miyamoto faced an ugly backlash for becoming the first black woman to represent Japan.

Social media lit up after Ms. Miyamoto’s trailblazing triumph as critics complained that Miss Universe Japan should instead have been won by a “pure” Japanese rather than a “haafu” — the Japanese for “half”, a word used to describe mixed race.

“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” Ms. 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.”

Ms. Yoshikawa, born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, vowed to continue the fight against racial prejudice in homogenous Japan, where multiracial children make up just two per cent of those born annually.

“I think it means we have to let it in,” she said 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 an 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.”

Ms. Yoshikawa, who speaks fluent Japanese and English and towered over her rivals at 5’8″, will contest for the Miss World crown in Washington this December.

“When I’m abroad, people never ask me what mix I am,” said Ms. 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.”

Reaction to Ms. Yoshikawa’s victory failed initially to trigger any real outrage, although predictably some were unhappy.

“What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics,” grumbled one Twitter user, while another fumed: “It’s like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner.”

As the Japanese government continues to push its “Cool Japan” brand overseas to entice foreign tourists for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Yoshikawa promised to win over any doubters.

“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.”

Tarun Kumar

I'm Tarun Kumar from India. I am writing on websites If you have any suggestion please contact via email using our Contact page. You can follow me on Twitter @Tarunkumar039 and Facebook /Tarunkumar039

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  • TribuneOfThePlebs

    Where are you from, then? What are you, then? Who is your ingroup? I’ve read of the sufferings of the hapa community. I can only pray you’re either a girl or your dad is the Japanese one. I’ve read about the identity crises, the heightened rates of mental illness, all the things that come with not having a people, a group identity. All these problems, but people talk about being half becoming normal. Sounds like we’re being stubborn.

    All you can do is pick a side of yourself and stick to it. It’s not often mixed people get to have their own country, and those are usually in places where people call themselves Mestizo.

    • VH

      You are saying that mixed people should pick a side and stick to it, but that goes against your original comment. Priyanka Yoshikawa chose to represent Japan, but you said that she was insufficiently Japanese.
      All humans have the right to choose the partner they want to spend their lives with, regardless of race. Japanese people are not an exception, though there are very few who marry out of their ethnic background. Moreover, it is unrealistic to think that they can refuse immigrants forever, since their population is in decline.
      Thus, Japanese hybrids won’t disappear. They are human beings too, some which have a desire to feel like they belong somewhere. I don’t want to hear people with a clear sense of identity tell them that they can’t have that because of who they were born as.

      To answer your questions, I am from many countries. I am a mixed race, thus no stereotype defines me. I don’t have an ingroup based on ethnicity, but I do have one based on similarity of ideals and intellect.

      • TribuneOfThePlebs

        She can pick a side, as can you, but that doesn’t mean that the side has to accept her, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they have to put her on a pedestal as an ideal.

        I don’t believe people have the right to marry/breed with whoever. I think the state and civilization has a vested interest in forbidding such things, as it leads to nonsense like this situation and conversation.

        Their population is in decline because there are too many of them on that tiny rock, and their natures know it. While a population contraction can cause some economic distress, they can certainly afford it, and it is a temporary situation, unlike permanently altering their genetic stock and undermining their cultural unity.

        Your rootlessness that you describe at the end is another reason why the state should forbid mixing races. You have no loyalty to place or people, only to nebulous fuzzy intellectualism. That is not enough to make a nation.

  • Joesph Barreras

    Absolute rubbish.

  • DeaconofDemons

    well said, @disqus_JZ7CK6Oquo:disqus.

  • gg

    But she is Japanese? whether you like to think so or not. Is she therefore only allowed to claim being Indian? Is she not allowed to claim any culture? Thats just stupid. She is a resident of Tokyo and if she has a parent whom is Japanese, then she should hold some citizenship in Japan. Therefore, she is Japanese. The pageant is called Miss Japan. She is a 1. Japanese 2. Lives in Japan 3. Has citizenship. I find this whole idea of yours repulsive. Keeping people of pure decent only in certain countries or cultures. Half Japanese are to be considered outsiders no matter what. No, im sure she holds Japanese mannerism and knows about her Japanese culture enough to not be an outsider. Japanese who cannot except these half Japanese are just ignorant toward the idea. The Japanese culture isnt going anywhere just by people inter racially mating. The Japanese, while still very homogeneous, are starting to date outside their race. Have children etc. I have been to japan a few times and even had a relationship with one. If you also haven’t heard , the birth rate in Japan is very very low. They somewhat need these half Japanese to kinda keep them going or they need to get to mating with one another, Although there are lots of factors of why that iisnt going well atm. Anyway Japanese can be mad all they want, but their people are going to change whether they like it or not. The youth are exposed to the world and are interested in different people. a lot of my Japanese friend are more interested in dating inter racially than with their own kind.

    • TribuneOfThePlebs

      She’s half Japanese, no matter where she lives. As you say, they are still outsiders. Do you get to judge who the Japanese should accept as their own? How insulting.

      Their people will not change, if they have the will to maintain their identity, and the will to stop subversives like you from destroying who they are.