Miss Japan Brings Light to Japan’s Racial Issues

CBSNews.com  –Walking through the Shibuya section of Tokyo, Ariana Miyamoto certainly turns heads — and she wants to use that attention to change attitudes.

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When Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan in March, selected by a panel of seven Japanese judges, her surprise on stage was real, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. She was the first-ever winner to be biracial. Her father is African-American, and her mother is Japanese.

“At first, I didn’t want to compete,” Miyamoto said in Japanese. “But then a close friend who was also biracial committed suicide. That’s when I decided to do something about the suffering he’d endured.”

She said the friend “really hated being half Japanese and not being fully accepted into Japanese society.”

“Japan still has racial issues, and I wanted to do something about it,” she said.

Watch the interview here.