Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Ukraine-born Miss Japan win reignites discussion of identity

Carolina Shiino, who moved from Ukraine at age 5, faced a wave of criticism after becoming the first naturalized Japanese citizen to win the Miss Japan pageant
miss Japan 2024
Winner Carolina Shiino stands in the middle with her trophy for Miss Japan 2024. Credit: Tokyo Weekender.
Ukraine-born Miss Japan win reignites discussion of identity

Carolina Shiino, a 26-year-old model born in Ukraine who moved to Japan at age five, was crowned Miss Japan 2024 on Monday, becoming the first naturalized Japanese citizen to win the pageant.

Tokyo Weekender reported that her victory has reopened discussion around the criteria for being “Japanese enough” to hold the title.

While some have hailed Shiino’s win as “a sign of the times,” others argue that she does not meet the expected image of a “Miss Japan,” citing her lack of Japanese parentage.

“This person chosen as Miss Japan is not even a mix of Japanese but 100% pure Ukrainian. Understand she is beautiful, but this is ‘Miss Japan.’ Where is the Japaneseness?” one commenter on X (Twitter) wrote.

Additional criticisms centered on the message Shiino’s coronation sends to the Japanese public.

“I think that Japanese people naturally (would) get the wrong message when a European-looking person is called the most beautiful Japanese,” one commenter said.

Some even alleged political motivations, with one person stating: “If she were born Russian, she wouldn’t have won. Not a chance. The criteria is now a political decision. What a sad day for Japan.”

Pageant organizer Ai Wada defended the judge’s decision, saying Shiino “speaks and writes in beautiful and polite Japanese. She is more Japanese than we are.”

Upon accepting her crown, Shiino acknowledged she “may not look Japanese,” but having grown up in the country, her “mind had become Japanese.”

Read also:

You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!