The recent winner of Japan’s national beauty contest was a half Japanese, half black woman. This is something of a game changer for Japan, a country with a reputation for being one of, if not the most racist in the developed world.
Taking advantage of her current position as a public figure, she has decided that she would like to see the traditionally xenophobic Japan become a multicultural society.
Japan’s first biracial beauty queen doesn’t see her crowning as a sign the country’s ingrained aversion to immigration is softening.
“Japan is always saying it’s globalizing, but I feel it hasn’t yet dealt with basics such as racial discrimination,” said Ariana Miyamoto, who has a Japanese mother and African-American father. “Things may have changed in places like Tokyo, but if you go into the countryside, things haven’t really changed at all.”
Popular opinion is against opening up Japan to foreign workers, despite having a population that is aging at the fastest pace in the developed world and dying off at a record rate. Miyamoto disagrees with this prevailing view. “We should invite in people from all over the world to share their cultures with us,” she said.
In person, the 20-year-old exudes the same self-confidence that helped her beat 43 others to take the 2015 Miss Universe Japan crown last month. It’s a quality that’s come in handy, given that her brown skin and curly hair made her a target of racial abuse in her native Nagasaki Prefecture and, more recently, on social media.
“What is a half-Japanese doing representing Japan?” exclaims one of the highest-rated postings on the website GirlsChannel, a kind of Reddit for local news and gossip. “She looks like a foreigner,” complains another. “What a disappointment,” laments a third.
Miyamoto, who recalls school classmates asking her not to share the same swimming pool with them, says she hasn’t been surprised by the reaction. She wants to use such attitudes to stay focused on why she entered the pageant in the first place.
“If there hadn’t been this kind of criticism, there would be no point in me competing,” she said, with no trace of bitterness. “I don’t want to ignore it. I want to change those people’s attitudes.”
I do think it’s a shame that she experienced such horrible discrimination. The idea that other kids wouldn’t share a swimming pool with her seems particularly cruel. However, I think she’s being selfish in trying to convince people that open borders for Japan is a must. In this modern world, people seem to think that economic growth is the only thing that matters. The majority of the Japanese population would rather keep Japan as culturally and racially homogenous as possible. What’s wrong with that? Do people not have a right to self determination and association with their own people? Why should Japan be expected to import outsiders, if the Japanese people don’t want them? If the Japanese people would rather live in a monocultural society than have unlimited economic growth, then that should be their choice.
Yes the Japanese population is on the decline, but people seem to forget that Japan has about double the population of Britain, despite only being about 50% larger. It’s not as if the Japanese are about to go extinct. If anything, their country is overpopulated as it is, and could do with a bit of shrinking. The economy will shrink as the population does, but at the same time, a lower population will therefore use up a lower amount of resources.
If people are really just worried about population decline and aren’t just using that as an excuse to upset the social harmony of Japan by forcibly changing its demographics, then why not instead find out why people are having less children in Japan, and work on a way to encourage more births? That way, the population won’t decline and there won’t be any risk of upsetting Japan’s demographics. It seems like a much better plan to me than importing people from parts of the world where 10-15 children are the norm, who will eventually outbreed and overrun the Japanese population.