Purists condemn new Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa, who is ‘haafu’ Indian

Priyanka’s father is Indian.

Indo-Japanese woman Priyanka Yoshikawa, who was crowned as Miss Japan 2016, on Monday, is now facing the ire of the purist Japanese, for being a ‘haafu’ or only half-Japanese.

While many people supported her and portrayed her as the icon of the racial diversity of Japan, some took it to social media to question her ethnicity of being a ‘haafu,’ the Japanese word for “half,” used to represent a mixed race.

Many people supporting the ‘haafu’ argument raised questions whether people from mixed-race were given preference over pure Japanese in beauty contests.

“I don’t mean to discriminate against races or appearances, but are the ‘haafu’ people given preferential treatment in beauty contests these days?” tweeted a user going by the Twitter handle @cyokuri.

Some people went on to say that the contest should have been won by a pure Japanese.

This is the second year in a row, that a bi-racial person is winning the Miss Japan beauty contest. Last year, Ariana Miyamoto, a 22-year-old half-African was crowned as Miss Japan and she represented the country on the world stage.

Born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, Yoshikawa is a trained kickboxer and holds an elephant trainer’s license. Despite raising questions about her ethnicity, Yoshikawa has decided to fight against the racial prejudice.

“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,” Yoshikawa was quoted as saying by Japan Times.

“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan. 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,” she added.

Yoshikawa has gone through many bad experiences in Japan only because of her racial background. She was bullied because of her skin color after returning to Japan after spending about 10 years in the US and in India.

“We have problems, we’ve been struggling and it hurts. When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ,” she told Japan Times about the struggles of bi-racial people in Japan.

Multi-racial children make up only 2 percent of those born annually.

Yoshikawa, who is going to contest the Miss World crown in Washington this December, is hopeful of changing the perception of the society through her efforts as Miss Japan.

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