Ukrainian-born model crowned Miss Japan gives up title over affair with married man

Karolina Shiino (centre) was crowned Miss Japan on January 22. Credit: AP
Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Japan on January 22. Credit: AP

A Ukrainian-born model who won this year's Miss Japan contest has given up her title after a magazine published an article about her affair with a married man.

Karolina Shiino became the first person of predominantly European heritage to win the pageant, setting off renewed public debate.

The 26-year-old model announced her decision to step down on Instagram, apologising to the man’s family and those involved.

She wrote: “I am truly sorry for causing a lot of trouble for many people and betraying those who have supported me.”

She also announced that she was parting ways with her talent agency.

Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Japan on January, Credit: AP

Organisers of the event released a statement saying that Ms Shiino had “requested to withdraw from the contest due to personal reasons” and that the 2024 title will remain “vacant.”

The claims about the affair were originally published last week in a magazine called The Weekly Bunshun.

Initially, Ms Shiino had appeared to confirm the relationship but said she did not know the man was married.

Later, she said her earlier explanation “was not true" and that she was aware of his married status and that he had a family.

The man involved, Takuma Maeda, an influencer known as “muscle doctor,” acknowledged on Instagram that he had no intention of divorcing his wife and apologised for causing trouble to Ms Shiino.

The scandal reignited a wave of criticism of Ms Shiino who has lived in the country since she was five years old and is fluent in the language.

The decision to pick a winner with European heritage prompted debate about what it means to be Japanese and the impact of Western beauty ideals in Asia.

Speaking after her win last month, Ms Shiino told reporters: “I wanted to be recognised as a Japanese person.

“I kept being told that I’m not Japanese, but I am absolutely Japanese, so I entered Miss Japan genuinely believing in myself. I was really happy to be recognised like this.”

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