Miss Japan 2024 (Japanese: Miss Nippon ミス日本) established in 1950 is one of the presitigious beauty pageants held annually in Japana. Ukrainian born model Carolina Shiino was crowned the new Miss Japan 2024 on a coronation event held on Monday. The 26-year-old model, who was born in Ukraine, moved to Japan at the age of five and was raised in Nagoya. She is the first naturalised Japanese citizen to win the pageant, but her victory has re-ignited a debate on what it means to be Japanese. While some recognised her victory as a “sign of the times”, others have said she does not look like what a “Miss Japan” should. Her win comes nearly 10 years after Ariana Miyamoto became the first bi-racial woman to be crowned Miss Japan in 2015. Back then, with a Japanese mother and African American father, Ms Miyamoto’s victory raised questions about whether a person of mixed race should be eligible to win the competition. Now, the fact Ms Shiino has no Japanese parentage has upset some on social media.
“This person who was chosen as Miss Japan is not even a mix with Japanese but 100% pure Ukrainian. Understand she is beautiful, but this is ‘Miss Japan’. Where is the Japaneseness?” said a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “If she was half [Japanese], sure no problem. But she’s ethnically 0% Japanese and wasn’t even born in Japan,” said another comment. Others said her win was sending the “wrong message” to others in the country. “I think that Japanese people naturally (would) get the wrong message when a European looking person is called the most beautiful Japanese.” Others questioned whether choosing the Ukrainian-born model was a political decision. “If she were born Russian, she wouldn’t have won. Not a chance. Obviously the criteria is now a political decision. What a sad day for Japan,” one person alleged. Carolina will be spending her 1 year reign to promote local products made in Japan to a global market. She will not be competing in any international pageant to focus on the responsibilities as the national titleholder.
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