She was born in Nagasaki, her first language is Japanese, her mother is Japanese, but even so, the candidate for the Miss Universe contest, Ariana Miyamoto, is accused of “not being Japanese enough.”
The twenty-year-old model became the first Miss Japan who was bi-racial as her parents – a Japanese mother and African American father. Despite being bi-racial, Miyamoto is Japenese by definition. Her success couldn’t pass without noise in a country that is not very racially diverse.
Miyamoto grew up in the city of Sasebo, which is located next to a US military base. Her mother met her father who is a black man from Arkansas. She attended high school in America, which is why many Japanese believe that she is not worthy to represent their country in a beauty pageant. She has visibly darker skin, unlike pale white skin, which in this conservative country is considered a symbol of beauty.
She says that from an early age she was accustomed to racist remarks despite having always loved Japan. In Japan, children of parents of different races, called “HAFU”. After Miyamoto won the Japanese competition for Miss Universe, the local social networks were flooded with the dilemma “whether ‘HAFU’ can represent Japan in the competition?”
When the media showed her photograph to the passengers on the street, asking if she could represent Japan at the Miss Universe contest, members of the middle and older generation mainly responded, “no, she does not look like the woman from Japan,” or “If someone is Miss Japan, then she must have both parents from that country.”
With mixed opinions around Japan, the young Japanese do not seem to mind Ariana’s origin. Most of them say that it is only important that she has Japanese citizenship and whether she is patriotic to the country. Where she attended high school, as well as the origin of her father’s completely irrelevant. According to them, claims that Miyamoto “is not enough Japanese” commonly referred to as “pathetic and ridiculous.” The younger generation think that this is a kind of revolution for this conservative country.
A Miss Japan of two different races, in a country where 98 percent of the population are of the same breed, represents significant progress. Miyamoto says that because of criticism she has more decisively began to train for the selection of Miss World, which will be held in January, and she wanted to send a message to the world that even “hafu” can represent the country of the Rising Sun.