A big congratulations to Ariana Miyamoto (宮本 エリアナMiyamoto Eriana), Miss Universe Japan 2015, who placed in the top 10 women in the world last night at the 64th Miss Universe Pageant held in Las Vegas. For anyone who has been asleep under a rock for the last year, Ariana is the first Blasian lady to ever represent Japan or any Asian country in a major global beauty pageant. See our prior post on Ariana in this link.

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Since being named Miss Universe Japan in March 2015, Ariana has been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy from some Japanese people who thought that Ariana was not Japanese “enough” to represent Japan at Miss Universe. This is despite the fact that Ariana was born and raised in Japan, speaks perfect native Japanese, and culturally thinks and behaves as Japanese as any other Japanese person.

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Also to be fair, Ariana has her supporters in Japan as well. Indeed the Miss Universe Japan judges, who were all Japanese, showed their confident support by naming her as Miss Universe Japan over a field of 43 other full Japanese women. This turned out to be a wise decision indeed! But while the other 79 contestants at last night’s Miss Universe had the full support of their home country as they prepared for the pageant over the last several months, Ariana had the unique position of preparing for the pageant, as well as dealing with this nagging question of “Is she Japanese enough?” coming from some in her home country.

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With her top 10 placement, Ariana ends Japan’s 7 year drought of not placing in the top 10 at Miss Universe and she becomes Japan’s 11th representative to ever place in the Miss Universe top 10 in the 64 year history of Miss Universe. This is a huge and historical accomplishment for Ariana and for Japan! Hopefully this can be a big step forward in Japan recognizing that hafu (half Japanese) and Blasian individuals can bring tremendous pride and honor to Japan, as much as any other full Japanese person.

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Where some Japanese people saw a person who wasn’t Japanese “enough”, the rest of the world saw a beautiful and poised Japanese lady who competed with the 80 most beautiful women in the world, and was found to be one of the top 10 in the world! Hopefully this is a lesson that will not be lost in Japan.

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I get it – foreigners make up less than 2% of Japan, so over 98% of the people in Japan are full Japanese.  With these statistics, it’s understandable how some Japanese can reach incorrect assumptions about hafus or Blasians, but Ariana’s performance on the world stage is proof positive that Japan should take much pride in their mixed Japanese population as well. Let’s hope that Japan understands this message now thanks to Ariana.

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I’m sure no one is more relieved than Ariana to have the Miss Universe Pageant under her belt. The extra scrutiny and pressure that sometimes comes with being the first Blasian or person of color to do something big can be intense. However for Ariana to face the pressure, succeed on the world stage despite such pressure, and make history in the process, it has to be a huge relief for her.

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Congratulations Ariana Miyamoto! We here at ABC, and Blasian couples worldwide, are so very proud of you! Thank you for your excellence!!

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