Japanese Miss Universe entrant Ariana Miyamoto faces racial backlash due to mixed ethnicity

Ariana Miyamoto will represent Japan. Photo: Kyodo

The naming of 20-year-old Ariana Miyamoto as Japan’s contestant in the upcoming Miss Universe beauty pageant has provoked a storm of criticism.

With an African-American father, Miyamoto’s Japanese status is insufficiently “pure”, according to some critics.

Miyamoto was crowned with the glittering tiara as the most beautiful woman in Japan on March 8, but it did not take long for internet commentators to question her ethnicity.

On the Girls Channel website, anonymous posters were expressing their disappointment.

“The idea is to have a Japanese representing Japan,” wrote one poster.

“I think it’s bad that a ‘half’ has become the Japanese representative,” added a commentator, while another posted: “I don’t understand this selection criteria.”

Miyamoto was born in the city of Sasebo, in Nagasaki Prefecture, to a Japanese mother and African-American father. She attended junior high school in her home town before completing high school in the United States.

After returning to Japan, she has been working part-time in a bar but had ambitions of going into modelling.

Miyamoto holds a Japanese passport, speaks fluent Japanese, has a fifth-degree mastery of Japanese traditional calligraphy and lists her hobbies as cooking and travelling.

In an interview, Miyamoto said she identifies with Japanese culture and considers herself to be Japanese although she claimed that her role model is Mariah Carey, who was similarly born to parents of different races.

“She went through a lot of difficulties before becoming a popular singing sensation,” she said.

“She faced some racial hurdles, similar to myself, but she overcame them and became a top star, so she’s been a big influence on me.”