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First black Miss Japan using fame to fight racism at home

MOTIVATED: Ariana Miyamoto

JAPAN’S FIRST multiracial beauty queen has committed her controversial win to battling racial prejudiced in hopes of one day sparking a ‘revolution.’

In a candid interview, Ariana Miyamoto opened up about battling racial discrimination after her momentous win in March.

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and African American father, Miyamoto is a Japanese citizen who was born in Sasebo, Nagasaki, one of the locations of a major American naval base.

The 21-year-old entered the Miss Universe Japan beauty contest after a friend, who is also multiracial, committed suicide after the abuse she endured after winning the crown because of her skin colour.

"I was prepared for the criticism. I'd be lying to say it didn't hurt at all. I'm Japanese - I stand up and bow when I answer the phone. But that criticism did give me extra motivation," she told AFP in an interview.

"I didn't feel any added pressure because the reason I took part in the pageant was my friend's death. My goal was to raise awareness of racial discrimination," added Miyamoto, who was bullied as a schoolgirl.

"Now I have a great platform to deliver that message as the first black Miss Universe Japan. It's always hard to be the first, so in that respect what Naomi Campbell did was really amazing."

Looking to Campbell’s influence in the modelling industry, breaking down barriers for models of colour to follow, Miyamoto said: "I want to start a revolution, I can't change things overnight but in 100-200 years there will be very few pure Japanese left, so we have to start changing the way we think."

Public reception to her historic win has been both positive and negative, with some people questioning whether a multiracial person can truly represent Japan.

Miyamoto will be competing at this year’s Miss Universe beauty pageant as Miss Japan.

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