Ukrainian-born Karoline Shiino was crowned Miss Japan but has renounced her title after controversy over her heritage as well as reports of a relationship with a married man
This year’s Miss Japan has renounced her title following controversy that she was born in Ukraine.
On January 22 Karoline Shiino was crowned winner of the beauty pageant, sparking a public discussion on an old question about what it means to be Japanese in a country where both homogeneity and conformity are still valued. A new article revealing an affair with a married man has caused further concern, which led her to give up her newly-won title.
In a message posted on her Instagram site on Monday, Karoline Shiino said that after the article came out, she offered to renounce her crown and resign from her modelling agency over it, and said her offer was accepted.
Last week, The Weekly Bunshun magazine reported that Karoline was in a relationship with a married doctor. At first, she appeared to confirm the relationship, but said she was unaware that he was married. Later, she said her earlier explanation “was not true” and that she was aware of him being married and having a family.
She apologised, explaining that a state of shock and fear over the news left her panicked, which was why she was not able to tell the truth. The now former Miss Japan wrote on Instagram: “I’m very sorry for causing the tremendous trouble and for acting as if betraying everyone who has supported me.”
She also apologised to the man’s partner and his family, as well as other people involved in the situation. The office of Miss Japan organisers said on Tuesday that Karoline Shiino’s renunciation of the title was accepted and added that the slot for the 2024 winner would remain empty.
The organisation also said it “takes responsibility” for the row and apologised to sponsors, judges and others involved for “the trouble”.
It said it initially defended Ms Shiino, based on her initial explanation that the man she was involved with had told her he was divorced and that she broke up with him when she learned otherwise.
The scandal reignited a wave of criticism of Ms Shiino on social media but also raised some questions about why she was mostly blamed for the affair. The man who was 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 and others.
In Japan’s male-dominated culture, women are still expected to be good mothers and wives, and are publicly chastised more than the men in case of extra-marital affairs. Last year, famous Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue’s acting agency suspended her indefinitely from her work contracts over her alleged affair with a married celebrity chef.
Moving to Japan at the age of five, Karoline Shiino has lived there ever since and is fluent in Japanese. In 2022, she became a naturalised citizen. She worked as a model and said she has as strong a sense of Japanese identity as anyone else, despite her Caucasian look.