Priyanka Yoshikawa


Priyanka Yoshikawa is keeping her crowned head held high.

Yoshikawa, a half-Indian, half-Japanese woman, was crowned Miss Japan 2016 Monday, making her only the second biracial beauty queen in Japan's history. The elephant trainer's crown comes only one year after Ariana Miyamoto, a half-black, half Japanese woman, won the title of Miss Universe Japan 2015. At the time, Miyamoto faced harsh criticism for being biracial, and now, Yoshikawa is enduring the same scrutiny.

While Yoshikawa, 22, has received plenty of support since receiving her crown, she has also had to deal with harsh critics. "Can't racially pure Japanese apply?' asked one Twitter user.

But in an interview with CNN, Yoshikawa defended her heritage and her crown. "My dad's Indian. Yes, I cannot change that, but I was born in Japan and my mom is Japanese. I was raised Japanese. I can't change that either," she said. "I'm Japanese. I'll keep being me and that's Japanese and that's the only thing I can do." 

Because she was raised Japanese, Yoshikawa said she feels no need to prove her background to anyone. "I'm Japanese and my passport is Japanese," she continued. "There's nothing else I can do to prove that."

Tomoko Morikawa, director of the Miss World Japan Office, told CNN that Japanese beauty standards are changing. She also said that Yoshikawa was selected as victor based on her looks and her societal contributions.

"We have not received any critical comment on her so far. She is bilingual and international, she is a totally suitable person represent Japan on the world stage," said Morikawa.

When Miyamoto found herself having to defend her crown, she also told reporters that while she didn't necessarily "look Japanese" on the outside didn't mean she wasn't Japanese on the inside. In addition to being born and raised Nagasaki, the young adult was also a Japanese citizen who spoke the language fluently.

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