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Half-Indian elephant trainer becomes Miss Japan

Yoshikawa, who speaks fluent Japanese and English, will now contest for the Miss World crown in Washington this December. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Tokyo, Japan Sep 06, 2016, 09.40 AM (IST)

Indo-Japanese Priyanka Yoshikawa won the Miss Japan beauty pageant on Monday, taking the world one step closer towards racial equality.

Yoshikawa’s victory follows that of Ariana Miyamoto last year when the Japanese citizen of part-African parentage was crowned Miss Japan. She later faced a backlash for not being a ‘pure Japanese'.

Both Yoshikawa and Miyamoto have grown up being called ‘haafu’ (meaning ‘half’ in Japanese). It is a term used to refer to mixed-race people in Japan.

An elephant trainer, Yoshikawa was born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother.

“Yes, I am half Indian and I am proud of it. But that does not mean I am not Japanese,” the 22-year-old told AFP in an interview. 

Yoshikawa, like Miyamoto, also said she was bullied in Japan where multi-racial children make up only two per cent of babies born annually. She said that she knows many haafus who face racism and so did she. “But it made me really strong,” said the 5-ft 8-inch kick-boxer.

Yoshikawa, who speaks fluent Japanese and English, will now contest for the Miss World crown in Washington this December.

"When I'm abroad, people never ask me what mix I am. As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too. The number of people with mixed race is only going to increase, so people have to accept it,” says Yoshikawa.

Meanwhile, social media was a divided house after she won the beauty pageant. While most people congratulated her, some Twitter users had a different take.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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