TOKYO: Priyanka Yoshikawa, whose father is from India, won Miss World Japan yesterday.
“I am inundated with messages from India, all wishing me luck. I told them I am not Indian but they are still sending me good wishes,” said the 22-year-old beauty queen.
Priyanka’s father is from Kolkata and met her mother after he went to Kolkata for studying. Priyanka was born in Tokyo but also spent some of her childhood in India and the US.
The 22-year-old Yoshikawa, praised Ariana Miyamoto, who won Miss Universe Japan in 2015, for giving her the confidence to enter Miss World.
“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” Yoshikawa told AFP after winning the title in Tokyo on Monday night. “That’s what I thought too. I didn’t doubt it or challenge it until this day. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and showing all mixed girls the way.”
Yoshikawa said her background did not disqualify her or other mixed race people from representing Japan. “We are Japanese,” she said. “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.”
Some social media users asked questions about her right to represent Japan, with one saying that her title was a “contradiction” given her parentage.
Some Twitter users wondered if a “pure” Japanese contestant would ever win the title. “What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics,” one poster said. Another complained: “It’s like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner.”