Controversial Ukraine-born Miss Japan gives up crown after reports emerged of affair with married doctor

6 February 2024, 09:05

Karolina Shiino, 26, has relinquished her crown
Karolina Shiino, 26, has relinquished her crown. Picture: Instagram/@karolina0824

By Asher McShane

The winner of Miss Japan has given up her crown after a tabloid reported she was having an affair with a married man.

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Carolina Shiino won the beauty pageant two weeks ago, sparking controversy in Japan over her Ukrainian heritage.

Some people welcomed her winning the title as a symbol of diversity but others said it meant the contest was favouring “Western beauty standards.”

Japanese magazine Shaken Bunshun went on to publish an article accusing her of having an affair with a married influencer and doctor.

Pageant organisers initially defended Ms Shiino, who said she was not aware the man was married. But yesterday it emerged she did know the man was married and she apologised for misleading the organisation before resigning her crown.

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

Shiino posted a message on her Instagram on Monday saying she had been "unable to speak the truth due to confusion and fear."

The title of Miss Japan will now remain vacant for a year until the next competition.

She won the accolade on January 22, the first person of European descent to win the honour. She became a naturalised citizen in 2022.

She had said in her acceptance speech: "I had not been accepted as Japanese many times, but I am filled with gratitude to have been recognized as Japanese today."

In an interview with The Japan Times last week, Shiino talked about how she had struggled with her identity growing up — that she looked different from her classmates and friends but still felt she was Japanese.

“All my life I’ve been told I’m not Japanese enough, both directly and indirectly, but I know I am Japanese. I can’t help it. Nobody has the right to tell me I’m not,” Shiino said.

“I don’t think it’s one thing that makes you Japanese. What I do know is that it’s a matter of the heart,” she said. “If a person thinks she is Japanese, then she is.”

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