Priyanka Yoshikawa, a half-Indian beauty, was crowned the winner of Miss Japan on Monday night. Priyanka, born to an Indian father and a Japanese mother in Tokyo, will represent Japan at the global platform of Miss World beauty pageant.
Yoshikawa is the second bi-racial contestant in a row to win the beauty pageant. Last year, Japanese-African Ariana Miyamoto kicked off controversy after she was crowned the Miss Universe Japan 2015. Miyamoto's became the first black woman to represent Japan at a global platform.
Yoshikawa credited her victory to Miyamoto and said that she inspired her to win Miss Japan 2016.
"Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn't represent Japan," Yoshikawa told AFP in an interview. "That's what I thought too. I didn't doubt it or challenge it until this day. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and showing all mixed girls the way."
However, not all welcomed Yoshikawa's victory. Yoshikawa faced backlash on social media after several users commented saying that the beauty pageant should have been won by a "pure" Japanese contestant, instead of a "haafu" – a word used in Japanese to refer someone who is bi-racial.
An anonymous user commented on a site saying, "Just pick a proper Japanese."
On the other hand, a Twitter user asked, "What is the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics."
"It's like we're saying a pure Japanese face can't be a winner," another user commented.
Despite the criticism, Yoshikawa vowed to fight against the racial prejudice in the country. Yoshikawa, who has a qualification in training elephants, said that she is a half-Indian, but she is also Japanese.
"I think it means we have to let it in," the 22-year-old told AFP. "We are Japanese. 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."
Miss Japan 2016 Yoshikawa will take part in the Miss World pageant that will take place in Washington D.C. on Dec. 20.