by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan last month, setting off a tidal wave of criticism, mostly centred on her biracial background.
Although Miyamoto has been labelled ‘not Japanese enough’, she is determined to work hard to shift the discriminatory attitude.
Ariana Miyamoto did not initially expect to win Miss Universe Japan because of her biracial background. With a Japanese mother and African-American father, she stands out easily with her bronze skin and height of 5.7ft.
“I was asked to join the competition in 2014 by an agency in Nagasaki, and although there were other biracial contestants, none of them won, so I declined, thinking I wouldn’t win anyway. But that same year, I had a biracial friend who killed himself, so for him I wanted to change Japan. I got an offer again this year, so I decided to enter.”
Critics have been harsh, with most referring to Miyamoto as haafu, a Japanese term for biracial. However, Miyamoto is focusing on the positive, aiming to progress the attitudes in her country.
Frequently excluded from Japanese society and social norms, she estimates that around 60 per cent of people online are against her representing Japan. Others, however, see the situation differently, one such being 35-year-old Tokyo resident, Daisuke Hioka.
“If someone were to say that biracial people aren’t Japanese, I’d disagree. Even in national Sport like soccer, I’m sure there are players who are ethnically foreign registered as Japanese. People still root for them, so I think it’s good if people root for her in the same mentality.”
Seventeen-year-old Tsubasa Meguro also told Reuters:
“If you’re biracial, then you can’t do anything about it. If you’re registered as a Japanese citizen, then you should be treated as one. Whether people criticise it or not, I think it’s an individual’s decision to participate in the contest.”