Former Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa feels that the new US Open champion Naomi Osaka, who beat her childhood idol Serena Williams, will serve as a great example for racial equality.
In an interview to AFP, Priyanka Yoshikawa, who is half-Indian and half-Japanese, said, “Naomi is definitely a role model. Japan should be proud of her – she can definitely break down walls, she will have a big impact.”
Priyanka, who was crowned Miss Japan two years ago, believes that Naomi will help shatter cultural barriers in a country where multi-racial children mmake up for two percent of the annual babies born in a year.
Praising Naomi, Priyanka added, “The way she speaks, and her humbleness, are so Japanese. Japan puts all ‘haafu’ in the same bucket. Haafu is a Japanese word for ‘half’ – a word to describe mixed race. “Whether you’re part Russian, American or African, you’re still categorised as ‘haafu’ in Japan.”
Even the 24-year old former Miss Japan has faced critics, who felt that Miss Universe Japan should have been won by a ‘pure’ Japanese.
“It’s not about language,” said Priyanka, commenting on Naomi’s lack of Japanese speaking skills. “Why does that bother people? It’s just because she has darker skin and is mixed race. People still ask me if I eat curry every day or if I can use chopsticks. But she’s what she thinks she is. If you think you’re Japanese, you’re Japanese.”
“Naomi can definitely do so much good in the future. But it’s still going to take more time for people to think ‘haafu’ can be Japanese,” she said. “We need more people like Naomi.”