Ukrainian Karolina Shiino wins Miss Japan, sparks outrage

Naturalized Japanese with Ukrainian roots, Karolina Shiino, was crowned Miss Japan 2024 (Miss Nippon) on Monday, January 22 in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old model has made headlines around the world after winning her title as she is the first-ever caucasian woman to become Miss Japan in the pageant's 56-year history.

Her victory ignited an online debate with many questioning the results, saying her win was "inappropriate" as "Miss Japan should be genetically Japanese."

In a post on social media, Karolina thanked everyone who supported her journey to winning the national competition. She also shared how the past few months leading to the final allowed her to learn more about Japanese culture.

"I fell in love with Japan even more and I feel like I was able to grow as a Japanese person," she said.

"I was able to renew my interest in aspects of Japanese culture and traditional performing arts that I had not had much exposure to since I was familiar with them," she added.

"From now on, through my activities as Miss Japan, I would like to learn more about the wonderful things about Japan, such as the spirit and culture of Japan, which I love, and to spread the word about them, as well as to allow everyone to understand and think about diversity."

Tokyo-based Miss Nippon, currently headed by Ai Wada, is organized by the Miss Nippon Organization and was first held in the 1950s. Famous Japanese actress Fujiko Yamamoto was crowned as its first-ever titleholder.

A total of 12 finalists took part in this year's competition.

Meet the new Miss Japan:

Photos: Miss Nippon / Instagram

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