The scandal has raised questions about what it means to be Japanese in a country where homogeneity and conformity are still prized.
The Ukrainian winner of this year’s Miss Japan beauty pageant and pageant organizers say she gave up her title after a magazine published an article about her affair with a married man.
Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Japan on Jan. 22, kicking off public debate on an old question about what it means to be Japanese in a country where homogeneity and conformity are still prized.
In a message posted Monday on her Instagram site, Shiino said that after the article was published, she offered to return the crown and resign from her modeling agency over it.
He said his offer was accepted and would not comment further on the incident.
Weekly Bunshun magazine reported last week that Shiino was having an affair with a married doctor.
She initially seemed to confirm the relationship, but said she didn’t know he was married. But in a later statement, he said that her earlier explanation was “not true” and that he was aware of her marital status and the fact that he had a family.
She said she was in a state of shock and fear at the news and panicked, which is why she couldn’t tell the truth.
“I am very sorry for causing this terrible problem and for acting as if I betrayed everyone who supported me,” she said on Instagram.
Shiino also apologized to the man’s partner and his family, as well as other parties involved.
The Miss Japan organizers’ office said on Tuesday that Shiino’s renunciation of the title had been accepted and added that the spot for the 2024 winner would remain empty.
The organization also said it “takes responsibility” for the scandal and apologized to sponsors, judges and others involved for “the problem”.
She said she initially defended Shiino, based on her initial explanation that the man she was involved with told her he was divorced and that she broke up with him when she learned otherwise.
The scandal reignited a wave of criticism of Shiino on social media, but also raised some questions about why she was responsible for the affair while the man who was involved with her did not make a single public comment.
In Japan’s patriarchal culture, women are still expected to be good mothers and wives and are publicly chastised more than men when it comes to extramarital affairs.
Last year, famous Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue’s acting agency suspended her indefinitely from her employment contracts due to her alleged affair with a married celebrity chef.
Shiino has lived in Japan since she moved to the country at the age of 5. She is fluent in Japanese and became a citizen in 2022. She has previously said that despite her Caucasian appearance, she feels a strong sense of Japanese identity like anyone else.