Thursday 27 October 2016
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A Hafu Japanese woman at Miss Universe 2015

A Hafu Japanese woman at Miss Universe 2015

It’s upsetting this Japanese beauty isn’t thought to be “Japanese” enough to represent Japan because she is a “hafu“. As we said a few days ago, Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Japan and she will represent her country at Miss Universe 2015. But something is interesting: She is the first black Miss Japan. The face of Japan is changing but some aren’t ready.

According to Kotaku, a Japan and technology-focused online media outlet, reported that Miyamoto expressed uneasiness on whether a half-Japanese contestant could represent Japan at an international beauty pageant.

Ariana Miyamoto, the first black Miss Japan

Miss Japan 2015 Ariana Miyamoto

Ariana Miyamoto at the Miss Japan Pageant

Ariana Miyamato, who also spent portions of her childhood in Nagasaki, said that despite her non-Japanese looks, she has many Japanese personality traits. Miyamoto’s victory drew criticism on Japanese websites, with some questioning whether she could represent Japan as a “hafu,” (is used in Japanese to refer to somebody who is biracial or half-Japanese.) One commenter wrote, “It makes me uncomfortable to say she’s representing Japan.” Other commenters called such criticism “outdated.””

Let’s be clear. She is Japanese. She’s a Japanese citizen. She grew up here. She was born here. She’s Japanese. Yet, out of politeness or even humility, she explained herself to the Japanese press. After this was out of the way, the rest of her interview progressed fairly normally with questions about how she felt when her name was announced or if she’s thinking of entering the Japanese entertainment industry.

Ariana Miyamoto Miss Japan Contestants

Ariana Miyamoto with Miss Japan Contestants

Ariana Miyamoto Japan

Miyamoto poses with Miss Japan 2015 Contestants

Her selection has caused controversy online in Japan. Website Byokan Sunday and Naver Matome have a good round-up of comments that appeared on Twitter. Comments like, “Is it okay to select a hafu to represent Japan?” or “Because this is Miss Universe Japan, don’t you think hafu are a no-no?”

Ariana Miyamoto 2015

Ariana Miyamoto with Miss Kyoto

When not wondering if this was “okay,” others said things like she didn’t look Japanese, her face was “too gaijin” or that the country deserved a “pure-blooded Japanese” (純日本人 or “junnihon”) beauty instead. Elsewhere online, one commenter wrote, “It makes me uncomfortable to say she’s representing Japan.”

Ariana Miyamoto Japan 2015

Because the vast, vast majority of Japan is filled with Japanese people from homogeneous backgrounds, you get comments like this from people who have no idea what it is like to be different or not to be part of an overwhelming majority. There’s a lack of empathy, and unfortunately, that can reflect poorly on Japanese society.

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