Japan´s Miss Universe winner isn´t Japanese enough?

March 26, 2015 Juju Kurihara Culture, Entertainment, news Tags: , , 0 Comments

About a week ago, the winner of Miss Universe Japan Contest 2015 caught people´s attention. First I saw the article in Facebook because the team HAFU was very excited about the fact that for the first time, a HAFU was selected as Miss Universe Japan. 

She is Ariana Miyamoto whose mother is Japanese and father is Afro-American. She was born in Nagasaki and she participated this Miss Universe Japan as the Miss Nagasaki. 


According to the HAFU film20,000 half-Japanese babies are born, both multiethnic and multiracial in Japan each year. Mixed race is no longer such a rare thing in recent Japan. And this news, HAFU won Miss Universe Japan proofs that HAFU is not minority anymore. 

Ariana said in the interview that she thought, "Should I be the representative of Japan?" She wasn´t sure if she would be selected because she is HAFU but she just wanted to try. Now she is the face of Japan. 


First, Japan seemed to be very excited about this news but then critics came after. Many questioned about her Japanese-ness. "Is she Japanese enough?" was the main argument. "She doesn´t look Japanese", "Should they select HAFU as a representative of Japan?" or "Huh? She isn´t Japanese" are the other comments appeared in the social networks.  



The main issue here is the image of Japanese women. What is "typical" Japanese woman? Many countries in the world historically have populations of mixed race. It´s hard to say "typical" Brazilian, for example. The US is also a country of immigration. However, Japan has been conserving this typical-ness in somehow although Japan is also a country of mixed race originally. 

When people say, "she doesn´t look Japanese", perhaps they mean the Japanese-ness as an aspect more than the beauty. It´s said that in the near future, the world population will become "milk coffee" in order to the increase in mixed race marriages. This means all of us will look similar. Then perhaps, it will not make much sense to hold Miss World or Miss Universe because uniqueness of the countries will disappear.    

Akiko Wakabayashi, the Bond girl keeps certain Japanese beauty while her figure shows some Western standard features. But after all, she looks Japanese enough to me. 




Despite of the critics, many people are happy about Ariana´s winning and a lot of people are supporting her. What is important this result for Japan is, HAFU can be neglected anymore. They will be no longer HAFU (this comes from "half") but a complete person. Not only just a person but as a Japanese. They will achieve this status. In this sense, we could say Japan is opening up to multiracial society. 

This will be very encouraging for many HAFU who were born and are living in Japan because most of them have experienced discrimination at daily basis.   




miss universeFor me, Miss Miyamoto´s winning has opened two different arguments; the Japanese-ness as a representative of the country and identity as a Japanese. 

Mixed race are beautiful. Ariana´s smaller face and super long legs are distinguishable comparing to her opponents. Of course it depends what do you call "beauty" though. But it could be unfair for other Japanese girls to put Miss Miyamoto in the same group. We don´t know if another HAFU will win the Miss Universe Japan next year but it´s more likely that more HAFU girls will challenge the contest, or rather, our concept of Japanese-ness.


Here is the question, should Japan keep the Japanese-ness for Miss Universe or they should open to any Japanese?




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