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Earlier this week, half-Indian, half-Japanese elephant trainer Priyanka Yoshikawa was crowned Miss Japan, becoming the second biracial woman to win the title. But, much like Ariana Miyamoto, who faced backlash for being the first Black woman to represent Japan just last year, Yoshikawa’s tearful victory was not celebrated by all. Also Read - Miss South Africa 2020 Unveils Plan to Stage Virtual Pageant Amid Lockdown, Entries Open Online
Within moments of Yoshikawa’s historic win, viewers took to social media to complain, arguing that the crown should have been won by a “pure” Japanese woman – and not a “haafu” – the Japanese word for half used to describe a mixed rice. Also Read - Ms. & Mrs. Gorgeous Worldwide Beauty Pageant to be Held in Bali in May
According to Buzzfeed, which translated some of the hateful Tweets from Japanese to English, at least one Twitter user (@WadeAthel) went as far as to say that Yoshikawa’s face is “dirty,” and that she was a “disappointment to the Asian race.”
“What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics,” another Twitter user wrote, while another complained, “It’s like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner.”
Despite some of the negative comments, the 22-year-old beauty, who was born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, took the hate in stride.
In her speech, she vowed to continue fighting to break down racial barriers in Japan, where only two percent of births are to multiracial children. Yoshikawa, like Miyamoto, said she was frequently bullied because of the color of her skin.
“I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,” Yoshikawa reportedly said.
“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.”
While the beauty queen was not without her haters, a number of social media users showered Yoshikawa with love and support, celebrating the significance of her victory.
“WOW!~! Congrats to Priyanka Yoshikawa! This is the second year in a row that a haafu has been crowned Miss Japan! Happy for them :),” @hellohln tweeted on September 5th.