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Miss Japan 2016
A half-Indian beauty queen with an elephant trainer's licence was crowned Miss Japan on Monday, striking a fresh blow for racial equality .
Priyanka Yoshikawa's tearful victory comes a year after Ariana Miyamoto faced an ugly backlash for becoming the first black woman to represent Japan.
Social media lit up after Miyamoto's trail-blazing triumph as critics complained that Miss Universe Japan should instead have been won by a “pure“ Japanese rather than a “haafu“ -the Japanese for “half “, a word used to describe mixed race. “Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn't represent Japan,“ Yoshikawa said. Yoshikawa, born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, vowed to continue the fight against racial prejudice in homogenous Japan, where multiracial children make up just 2% of those born annually .
Twitter was abuzz with criticism, condemning the decision of crowning a "haafu" or half-Japanese with the title. But the shaming was not successful in degrading Priyanka's accolades in any way. The criticisms were shunned by Twitterati who accepted Priyanka is one of them and as Japanese as any other "pure" Japanese.
Priyanka said she was inspired by Ariana Miyamoto, Miss Japan 2015 who was the first half-Japanese to win the crown.
"As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too," she said.
“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.“
“I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,“ said Yoshikawa. "I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer," she said. "When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ."
"Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I'm thankful because that made me really strong."
Now, Ms Yoshikawa is being criticised for having an Indian father and some Indians have taken to social media to advise the Japanese to "get over it". One Twitter user said she won because she "must have deserved it" while another said "after Gautam Buddha, Ms Yoshikawa is the only Indian to make it big in Japan".
Ms Yoshikawa's win did not trigger the backlash that Ms Miyamoto received on social media.
There were however, several on Twitter that expressed unhappiness.
"It's like we're saying a pure Japanese face can't be a winner," said one user.
"What's the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics," another complained.
Ms Yoshikawa however, was not letting the doubters get to her.
"There was a time as a kid when I was confused about my identity," she said. "But I've lived in Japan so long now I feel Japanese." (BBC)
Priyanka, who is a trained kick-boxer, was bullied as a child because of her skin colour. This happened when she returned from a three-year visit to her mother in Sacramento and a year with her extended family in Kolkata.
A descendant of Prafulla Chandra Ghosh
The 22-year-old beauty queen from Tokyo is half-Bengali by origin and has spent a few years of her childhood (2003-04) in Kolkata.
She is from a very politically active family, which gave us our first chief minister, Prafulla Chandra Ghosh - her great-grandfather.
Priyanka's father Arun Ghosh migrated to Japan around 36 years ago. "We have always supported her with her ambitions. She has made us proud," said the delighted father. Her mother Naoko was a Bengali teacher in Tokyo when she got married.
"It was a pleasure to get to live with my Indian family and get to know my father's background. Also, it was one of the best years of my life because I got to see, learn and feel about the amazing country I have in half of me," said a beaming Priyanka. Her father had seven brothers and sisters, families of six of them still residing in India. One of her uncles, Amal Ghosh, also stays in Tokyo. Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, her grandfat her's uncle, was an integral part of India's fight for Independence. Born on January 20, 1994, in Tokyo, Priyanka was always had a knack of trying out something different.She is an elephant trainer, which she says she learnt to add spice to her resume.