Japan was for centuries a closed society. In fact, from about 1600 the Togukawa shogunate closed Japan from the rest of the world in the belief that the Japanese were superior to the world, and could not associate with other races, who they deemed inferior. The Japanese imposed stringent restrictions on foreigners and hardly anyone was allowed into Japan. This state of affairs continued till about 1850 when the American flotilla commanded by Commodore Mathew Perry laid siege to Edo Bay. He was successful and the Japanese had no choice but to give in to American demands and open up their country.

Copying the West

The Japanese are avid learners and they soon copied or even bettered some of the ideas from the West. They built up a formidable military machine and at one time dominated the entire SE Asia. The Japanese also copied the concept of beauty pageantsand began to have their own contests.

Despite the opening up, a section of the Japanese people still looked down on other races and many Japanese children from mixed marriages suffered, Called Haafu, or half Japanese, these children were often discriminated against.

A blow was struck against this apartheid when last year a Haafu girl Ariana Miyamoto won the Miss Japan beauty contest for the first time. Many criticized her as she did not look Japanese enough. Nevertheless she represented Japan at the world beauty contest.

Half-Indian girl wins beauty pageant

This year anothergirl with mixed parentage Priyanka Yoshikawa has won the Miss Japan title. She is half Indian, as her father is from Calcutta and her mother is Japanese.

She is related to the ex-Indian chief minister of Bengal and spent over a year in Calcutta in 2003-04. Priyanka was born in Tokyo, and will represent Japan at the Miss World contest this year to be held in Washington. She has joined the rank of Celebrities.

Last word

Orthodox Japanese are not happy at a non-Japanese girl winning thebeauty contest and now representing Japan. But times are changing and so is Japan.

There is more opennessnow and Priyanka considers herself Japanese first before anything else.

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