Voices | VIEWS FROM THE STREET

Views from Tokyo: What are your thoughts on the new biracial Miss Japan?

by Mark Jarnes

Staff Writer

Emi Matsushima, 30
Model (German-Japanese)
I have to say I’m quite surprised about a multiracial person winning such big titles two years in a row now. But as a multiracial person — a hāfu — myself, I think it’s great that Priyanka won the title to represent Japan. I’ve always thought that Japan should be more open minded and less discriminating towards multiracial people. Why does there even need to be a label to separate us? I hope that this will be a further step towards changing people’s perceptions.

Masumi Shimonaka, 32
Translator (Japanese)
There are a lot of Japanese people that don’t like the idea of a half-Japanese person representing Japan — thinking she’s “not Japanese enough.” But I think that they need to get over the idea that Japan is a static society where everything needs to be the same and things don’t change. If she grew up in Japan — and she even speaks the language — then she’s Japanese. I’m Japanese, and it’s not that good because I lived abroad for most of my life.

Toki Jennifer Fillman, 30
Researcher (American-Japanese)
People who grew up here but are not fully Japanese racially are still viewed as outsiders, which can result in bullying or discrimination. In this increasingly globalized, integrated and mixed-race world, it is important for Japan’s perception of what it means to be Japanese to evolve as the lines between “foreigner” and “Japanese” become less clear. As a hāfu person myself, I hope that Yoshikawa’s win represents a shift in thinking towards a more accepting society.

Shigemasa Kobayashi, 34
Coffee roaster (Japanese)
In the recent Olympic Games in Rio, Aska Cambridge (whose parents are Jamaican and Japanese) was the anchor in our men’s 4x100m relay team, and they won a silver medal. I think that as we progress as a nation, we won’t continue as a society if we can’t accept the fact that there’s no real thing as “pure blood” — and it will become less of an issue in time anyway. I don’t think people need to focus on it.

Shohei Kondo, 39
Florist (Japanese)
I think that “being half” doesn’t matter at all. There’s no difference between being “pure Japanese” and multiracial. Whether you’re Japanese or not at all, if you like Japan and want to live here, nationality doesn’t even matter. Whether you’re American, Chinese or Indian, I can think of all of them as Japanese. Although I think it may be difficult to “mix blood” in Japan, I think it might even be better to be multiracial — I think it’s best for the evolution of mankind, to be honest.

Yuki Sei, 28
Carpenter (Japanese)
That is just the way the world is in current era that we all live in. In many other countries on other continents, there are so many people with multiracial and multicultural backgrounds. Who, for example, is actually purely American, French, Spanish, anyway? Japan is an island nation, so it took a longer time for us to have outside influences, but we are catching up.

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