Japanese Beauty Queen Makes History

Sarah Chen, Photojournalist

21 year-old Ariana Miyamoto is the first biracial woman to have won Miss Japan when she was crowned earlier this year in March. Miyamoto is half Japanese and half African-American, which is also known as “haafu” is Japan. Her status as a biracial woman has caused a new controversy in Japan, on whether “haafus” should represent Japan.

The Japanese society has long been known as more closed off and racially homogeneous. Miyamoto’s win is the very first of its kind and launched this new controversy. Miyamoto has grown up in Japan. She is a Japanese citizen. She speaks fluent Japanese. She even holds the fifth degree mastery of Japanese Calligraphy. By every definition, Miyamoto is Japanese. However, her position has a biracial women has started many debates online about whether she is “Japanese enough.” Her heritage has sparked this new argument on whether she is fit to represent Japan to the world in the future Miss Universe competition.

“I sit on the floor, I take my shoes off when I go into the house, I use chopsticks—I know nothing but a Japanese lifestyle,” Miyamoto said. She believes that while she may not “look Japanese on the outside, on the inside, there are many Japanese things about me.”

Before her entry to the contest, Miyamoto was very hesitant about her position has a “haafu,” and whether she should enter in the competition or not. Finally, after seeing a biracial friend commit suicide, Miyamoto decided to use the competition as a way for her to change the Japanese attitude about the mixed-race population.

According to Miyamoto, her friend “really hated being half Japanese and not being fully accepted into Japanese society.” Japan is very sensitive to the biracial people. There are roughly only 2% of the population that is mixed.

Growing up, Miyamoto has also faced many hardships because of the color of her skin. “Whenever the teacher told us to hold hands, other children thought my black skin would rub off on them, so they said, ‘Don’t touch me,’” Miyamoto recounted. “Some kids wouldn’t get in the pool with me. Others threw garbage at me.”

Miyamoto wants to use her new title as a way to change the traditional views in Japan and urge the nation to accept the different people.

“I think that people are too close minded sometimes. Miyamoto’s win to be Miss Japan 2015 will definitely change the way the world thinks, since the Miss Universe Competition will include all sorts of women in every race on this planet,” Roshni Patel (12) commented.

Still, Miyamoto’s antiracism platform has won her support internationally. Many mixed-race Japanese now look at Miyamoto as a role model and use her strength to be who they are proudly. The other contestants were all eager to share Miyamoto’s joy in her crowning.

While many may be critical of Miyamoto’s representation of Japan in the upcoming contest, there is no doubt that the 21-year-old will be bringing a new perspective to Japan.

Many Japanese, both supportive and doubtful of Miyamoto’s biracial standing, will be watching the Miss Universe 2015 Competition to see how far Miyamoto can spread her platform and change the mindset of the world.