In orthodox Japan, a half-Indian girl Priyanka Yoshikawa, 22, has caused hate mongers and racists to come out of the woodwork. Priyanka is in the news as she has been crowned Miss Japan in the Miss Universe pageant and she will be participating in the final Miss World event with other contestants from across the globe. Racism in Japan is quite out in the open as is discrimination against women and the beauty pageant has brought these old festering wounds out in the open again with Priyanka as the latest victim.
Priyanka, who is quite erudite and outspoken, was born in Tokyo to an Indian father and a Japanese mother and she says because of her mixed race, she has been branded a ‘haafu’, meaning the person is not ‘pure’ Japanese. However, this is not the first time a girl who is not all Japanese has been crowned Miss Japan. Last year a Japanese-African woman Ariana Miyamoto was crowned as Miss Japan and that had caused a vicious campaign against foreign origin people to break out on social media, reports ToI.
The same has happened this time, except that it is an Indian-origin girl. Priyanka however, credits Ariana with giving her the confidence to fight such racist abuse. “Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and showing all mixed girls the way,” Priyanka told AFP.
Not looking just to break through this wall of hate, Priyanka indicated that she will not take the criticism negatively and highlighted her links with her country by saying, “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.”
Priyanka was targetted since early childhood over the colour of her skin as well as her above average, for a Japenese, height – she towers over most Japanese women at 5.8 ft. She said she knows other mixed-blood children and they do not have a good life in Japan as they too are regularly targetted. Priyanka put things in perspective for ‘haafu’ kids, “We’ve been struggling and it hurts. When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ. Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad.” Not one to delve too deeply into negativity, however, she added, “But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.”
Here’s a sample of the kind of reaction the crowning of Priyanka Yoshikawa elicited on Twitter: “What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics.” Interestingly, Priyanka is an ‘elephant whisperer’ (licensed elephant trainer).