Carolina Shiino, a woman with European parents, recently won the ‘Miss Japan’ title, despite some in Japan being displeased.

She has a Japanese passport and was adorned with the crown and sash denoting her as ‘Miss Japan 2024’ in a Tokyo hotel. The 26-year-old burst into tears upon winning, as she was the first woman born outside of Japan to non-Japanese parents to win the title.

Shiino was granted Japanese citizenship in 2022. After her coronation, she expressed gratitude for being recognized as Japanese in the competition.

However, her win sparked a social media debate in Japan over whether she should be allowed to receive the ‘Miss Japan’ crown.

The positive posts mainly emphasized her Japanese nationality, while the opposing posts focused on her ethnicity.

In Japan, being Japanese is traditionally associated with appearance rather than nationality.

Naomi Osaka, a tennis player with a Japanese mother and Haitian father, is often considered Japanese due to her appearance, despite struggling with the language and obtaining her Japanese passport at age 22.

On the other hand, some Japanese find it difficult to accept naturalized foreigners like Carolina Shiino as compatriots.

Despite several thousand people receiving a Japanese passport every year, including foreigners of non-Japanese origin, it is essential to note that the content of the improved text must be as close as possible to the source text. For instance, Marti Turunen, a Finn who came to Japan as a missionary, took Japanese citizenship in 1979, changed his name to Marutei Tsurunen, and held a seat in the upper house of Japan’s parliament from 2002 to 2013.

Additionally, the text mentions migration from Ukraine to Japan.

The new beauty queen is the daughter of Ukrainian parents. Carolina was born in Ternopil, a city in western Ukraine, in 1998.

Her parents divorced, and her mother remarried a Japanese man named Shiino. When Carolina was five years old, she moved to Japan and grew up in a typical environment.

Ms. Shiino speaks Japanese fluently and has fully embraced Japanese culture, identifying herself as Japanese in both language and thought.

However, her non-Japanese appearance has often drawn attention to her Japanese surroundings.

According to Ai Wada, the organizer of the ‘Miss Japan Grand Prix,’ the judges chose Ms. Shiino as the winner with complete confidence due to her beautiful and polite Japanese speaking and writing skills.

 “She is more Japanese than we are.”

However, not all users of X, Japan’s most crucial discussion forum, were convinced.

One user (@ 0xkarasy) wrote, “As a Japanese woman with one-eighth Japanese blood, you have to be at least half-Japanese to represent a homogeneous country like Japan at the ‘Miss Japan’ competition. It’s a matter of identity.”

The controversy surrounding her win may not have come as a surprise to her. This is because a similar discussion occurred nine years ago when Ariana Miyamoto, a mixed-race woman, was crowned Miss Universe Japan. At that time, there was criticism that Miyamoto did not look ‘Japanese enough.’

Like Naomi Osaka, Miyamoto’s father is African American, and there was debate about whether a dark-skinned Japanese woman could hold the title ‘Miss Japan.’

Now, people in the island nation must get used to a ‘Miss Japan’ who may not look traditionally Japanese but identifies as Japanese.