Indian-Japanese elephant trainer gets crowned Miss Japan
The world we live in is becoming more diverse and inclusive than ever before, and nowhere is that more evident than in Japan, where an Indian-Japanese beauty queen was selected to represent her country at the upcoming Miss World competition.
Last year, half-black Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan, prompting a national discussion on what it means to be truly Japanese. For decades, bi-racial models have graced magazine covers and runways, and in recent years, many have found success as television personalities, actors and singers. But regardless of their celebrity status, these half, or "half" entertainers were and are not considered to be truly Japanese in the eyes of many. This perception is not considered to be negative. Half-Japanese children and adults alike are often envied, mostly for their physical attributes, but also for their unique situations in life. They are thought to be special, and often times treated as such.
But when it comes to these half-Japanese men and women representing Japan in an official capacity, that's where the haters come out of the woodwork. Just last month in Rio, a number of Olympic athletes representing Japan were bi-racial, winning medals and becoming household names in the process. And because it's such a new phenomenon, this influx of a new type of Japanese athlete is rubbing a declining number of traditionalists the wrong way, those who think the only real Japanese is one that's pure. So when Ariana Minamoto won Miss Universe Japan, bitter netizens complained that she wasn't really Japanese, that only contestants that were 100% Japanese should be able to compete for the title. And this year, the winner of Miss World Japan is none other than Priyanka Yoshikawa, a 22-year old born in Tokyo to an Indian father and Japanese mother. "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."
Nothing can stop the way of the world, and the fact is, Japan is becoming more diverse by the day. And for a place that's always had such a homogenous society, these changes are a big deal. The Japanese people are noticing what's taking place, and they're talking about it. There are of course more supporters than not, and organizations like Miss Universe and Miss World are making sure that they continue to contribute to the positive changes taking place in the still very traditional culture.
So congratulations to Priyanka, the new kickboxing and elephant-training Miss World Japan of 2016!