Priyanka Yoshikawa, 22, has been crowned Miss Japan, making this the second year in a row that a mixed-race person has won the pageant. Earlier in 2015, Ariana Miyamoto has become the first black woman to represent Japan.
However, the newly crowned Miss World Japan is hardly a typical Japanese woman. Being half-Indian is only a part of it. She, who also has an elephant training licence, said she would use her victory to change perceptions. A half-Indian with an elephant trainer’s licence was crowned Miss Japan, striking a blow to those demanding a ‘pure’ Japanese pageant queen.
The Right-wing Japanese critics have been complaining that ‘pure’ Japanese should have won. Priyanka said, “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”. “I think it means we have to let it in,” said the 22-year-old when asked what it signified for her and Miyamoto to break down cultural barriers.
The new Miss Japan has credited the previous winner Ariana for providing her all the necessary encouragement to participate and show her mettle. “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”, says Ms. Yoshikawa.
Importantly, Ms. Yoshikawa has an Indian Bengali father and a Japanese mother, grew up mostly in Japan but spent one year in India and three years in America. She says living overseas gave her a broader perspective, but that she still calls Japan home.
Beyond Miss World, she wants to achieve her ambitions in India - in Bollywood's film industry and Kolkata. "I would like to go into that industry. I need to learn dancing and Hindi but yes, of course I love to try anything," she said.
The new Miss Japan is also an avid kick-boxer. Kudos to Ms. Priyanka Yoshikawa! And it’s true that Talent cannot be controlled or ruled by caste, colour, gender or country of origin.