In 2015, Ariana Miyamoto became Japan’s first biracial Miss World Japan. And on Monday, Priyanka Yoshikawa, whose father is Indian and whose mother is Japanese, became the country’s second.
I am very honored to be chosen as Miss World Japan 2016 and would genuinely like to thank everyone who supported me. pic.twitter.com/qG92tV6ki9— Priyanka Yoshikawa | MUKOOMI代表 (@Miss_priyanka20) September 6, 2016
However, just like last year’s winner, Yoshikawa is now the target of racist backlash. Critics have taken to social media to complain that someone “pure” should have won the title instead.
“I am not saying we shouldn’t choose a haafu,” wrote one person on Twitter, referring to the Japanese term for “biracial,” “…but I want us to choose someone who is beautiful to everyone.”
“Miss Japan representatives also elected a woman of mixed race. But dirty face,” wrote another.
“We are Japanese,” Yoshikawa told the Hindustan Times. “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 told the news outlet AFP that in school people treated her as a “germ” and for a while she was confused about her heritage. “Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” said Yoshikawa. “That’s what I thought too. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and all mixed girls the way.”
When she’s not competing, Yoshikawa trains elephants and kickboxes; she also speaks fluent English. She says she wants to use her title to create greater openness in a country where only 2 percent of children are haafu.
Yoshikawa will go on to represent Japan in the Miss World pageant in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 20.