Ariana Miyamoto is facing abuse for “not being Japanese enough” because of African American father

20-year-old Ariana Miyamoto, the 2015 Miss Japan winner, was born to a Japanese mother and American father and raised in Nagasaki, Japan. Despite her inherent Japanese qualities and birthright, she has had to prove she is of Japanese ancestry after criticism from the Japanese media.

The fact that Miyamoto is of mixed race, or a “hafu”, has drawn negative backlash from Japanese audiences who feel that Miss Japan should be pure Japanese. Miyamoto was born in Nagasaki and moved to the U.S. for high school before returning to Japan as a bartender. She left bartending to pursue a career in modeling and pageantry and to her surprise succeeded in the industry.

Japan, which consists of 98% Japanese nationals, and its lack of diversity was the topic of Megumi Nishikura’s film Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan. Nishikura’s film highlights that 20,000 half-Japanese people are born in Japan each year and has spoken to NBC  regarding Miyamoto’s win. Nishikura said that Miyamoto’s crowning “is a huge step forward in expanding the definition of what it means to be Japanese. The controversy that has erupted over her selection is a great opportunity for us Japanese to examine how far we have come from our self-perpetuated myth of homogeneity while at the same time it shows us how much further we have to go.” Miyamoto has cited Mariah Carey as an inspiration, who has also faced racial obstacles en route to achieving her dreams. She is currently Japan’s representative in the Miss Universe Pageant and remains hopeful in the face of adversity.

-Nishat Baig