In only two years, Priyanka Yoshikawa is the second mixed race contestant to win a major Japanese beauty pageant, but even so she is facing a severe backlash (“Japanese-Indian crowned Miss World Japan” in the Sept. 7 edition).

Many Japanese people say that she is not Japanese and that she shouldn’t be able to represent Japan because she is part Indian. In response, she said something that resonated with me: “I am proud that I have Indian in me. But that does not mean I’m not Japanese.”

I am half myself. Half Japanese and half American. I grew up in Hawaii but, as a child, I attended Japanese public schools every summer. I distinctly remember my first day of first grade in Japan. I came to school with my Japanese mother, dressed in the same uniform all the other Japanese kids wore. A little boy tapped my mother and asked, “Is she a foreigner?” As a child, I simply never thought that I could be a foreigner in my own country, but I remember this question taking a stab at me, and it continues to haunt me today.

As a haafu, most of the time I am proud to be half and usually I get the best of both worlds. But despite speaking Japanese fluently with a native accent, knowing the mannerisms and culture, and spending much of my life in Japan, I have never felt accepted by Japanese as a “true” Japanese.

People ask about me, “Is she Japanese?” “No, she is half!” But did anyone stop to think that “half” is not a race? Like Priyanka Yoshikawa, I hope that in the future I will be accepted as Japanese. Not “half,” but “Japanese.” I hope that someday “half” will simply be another kind of Japanese.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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