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6 Feb, 2024 07:16

Scandal-hit Ukraine-born Miss Japan winner gives up crown

Karolina Shiino, whose victory caused controversy over her heritage, apologized after her relationship with a married man was revealed
Scandal-hit Ukraine-born Miss Japan winner gives up crown

A Ukrainian-born model with Japanese citizenship who won the 2024 Miss Japan beauty pageant in January, has had to relinquish her title after her relationship with a married man was made public. The Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine reported on Thursday that 26-year-old Karolina Shiino was dating a married doctor, who is also a social media influencer.

In a statement on its website on Monday, the Miss Japan Association said it had accepted Shiino’s request to relinquish her title and offered its “deep apologies” to all parties concerned, including sponsors and judges, adding that the competition’s top honor will remain vacant for the rest of the year.

The contest organizers had initially supported Shiino after she told her modelling agency that she had immediately broken up with the man when his marital status became known to her. But a new statement from the agency on Monday said she had continued seeing him after learning he is married.

In an apology on Instagram, Shiino said she had been unable to tell the truth due to her confusion and fear after the report was published. “I am truly sorry for causing so much trouble and for betraying those who supported me,” she wrote.

Karolina Shiino was named the 2024 Miss Japan Grand Prix winner in January. She is the first person of European origin to win the top prize. The organizers said the contest winner was supposed to represent the “foremost beauty of all Japanese women.”

Born to Ukrainian parents, Shiino grew up in Nagoya, central Japan, after moving to the country at age five.

Her Miss Japan victory had already caused controversy over her foreign heritage, leading to a debate on social media over whether her non-Japanese background made her an appropriate winner.

In an emotional acceptance speech upon winning, Shiino said her identity was that of a Japanese person, and that she had not been accepted as Japanese many times”, but was filled with gratitude to have been recognized as Japanese.”