Ukraine-born Miss Japan winner relinquishes crown following affair

TOKYO — The Ukraine-born winner of the Miss Japan beauty pageant has given up her crown after a tabloid report revealed her affair with a married man.

Karolina Shiino, 26, was crowned Miss Japan two weeks ago but her win sparked public debate due to her heritage.

While some welcomed the naturalized citizen’s crowning, others said she didn’t represent traditional Japanese beauty ideals.

Amid the furor, a local magazine published an expose alleging an affair.

The article in the Shukan Bunshun reported that Ms Shiino had engaged in a relationship with a married influencer and doctor. The man has not provided any public comment.

In its initial response to the report last week, the pageant organizers defended Ms Shiino, saying she hadn’t known the man was married.

However on Monday, organizers said she had confessed to knowing about the man’s marriage and family.

She had apologized for being misleading and organizers had accepted her title resignation, the Miss Japan Association said.

Ms Shiino also apologized to her fans and the general public in a statement on Monday, where she said she had acted out of fear and panic in response to the report.

“I am truly sorry for the huge trouble I have caused and for betraying those who supported me,” she said.

The Miss Japan title will now remain vacant for the rest of the year, although there were several runner-ups.

The competition crowned Ms Shiino on 22 January — the first person of European descent to be given the honor. She was born in Ukraine before moving with her mother to Japan when she was five and taking on her stepfather’s Japanese last name.

She speaks and writes fluent Japanese and became a naturalized citizen in 2022.

Upon receiving the title, she had said in her speech: “I had not been accepted as Japanese many times, but I am filled with gratitude to have been recognized as Japanese today.” — BBC

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