February 7, 2024
TOKYO – Miss Karolina Shiino, the Ukraine-born winner of the 2024 Miss Japan beauty pageant, has relinquished her crown amid controversy, contest organisers reported on Feb 5.
Her resignation came after a magazine claimed she was involved with a married man.
The Miss Japan Association has confirmed that her title will remain unoccupied for the rest of 2024, marking an unprecedented situation in the pageant’s history.
According to a report by Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun on Jan 31, the 26-year-old was said to be in a romantic relationship with a married doctor.
On Feb 1, the Miss Japan Association defended Miss Shiino, stating on its website that the doctor had misrepresented himself as being single and that she was not aware of his marital status.
“Miss Japan Association believes there was no fault on the part of Karolina Shiino,” it said.
However, on Feb 5, the association said that further revelations indicated she was aware of the man’s marriage and had misled the public about it.
Subsequently, she offered an apology and relinquished her title, which the association accepted.
The agency representing Miss Shiino released a statement on Feb 5 acknowledging her continuation of the relationship after her discovery of the doctor’s marital status. It also announced the termination of her contract.
In a personal message shared on Instagram, she expressed her regret, saying that she was “unable to speak the truth due to confusion and fear”.
Miss Shiino was born in Ukraine and moved to Japan at the age of five when her mother married a Japanese man.
In September 2023, she shared in an Instagram post her journey of becoming a naturalised Japanese citizen.
Her crowning as Miss Japan on Jan 22 reignited discussions on the essence of Japanese identity.
In an emotional acceptance speech, she had expressed her gratitude for being recognised as 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,” she said during an interview with The Japan Times on Feb 1.
“Nobody has the right to tell me I’m not.”
She said she firmly believes being Japanese is a matter of the heart and that self-identification is key.
“If a person thinks she is Japanese, then she is,” she added.