From the perspective of Japan’s historically conservative-nationalist society, ethnic ancestry – not citizenship, language, or culture – is the crucial prerequisite for truly being considered Japanese, thus disqualifying ethnic Ukrainian Karolina Shiino in their mind and making her crowning an insult to all ethnic Japanese women.
Asia and especially Japan are considered to be bastions of conservative-nationalism but the crowning of a Ukrainian model as “Miss Japan” last week shows that liberal–globalism has spread there too. What’s meant by these terms in this context is the contrast between traditional and so-called “progressive” notions of identity whereby the former relate to ancestry while the latter is malleable. It’s important to elaborate on these concepts in order to avoid any malicious misinterpretation of them.
Anyone can migrate anywhere so long as they do so legally, after which they can receive citizenship and pass it on to their descendants, who’ll ideally assimilate and integrate into the host country’s society. As for 26-year-old Ukrainian-born Karolina Shiino, she’s lived in the country since she was five following her mother’s marriage to a Japanese man. Karolina speaks fluent Japanese and became a naturalized citizen in 2022, which is why she identifies as Japanese instead of Ukrainian. In her words:
“I wanted to be recognized as a Japanese person. After all, we live in an era of diversity — where diversity is needed. There are many people like me who are worried about the gap between their appearance and (who they are). 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 recognized like this.”
Just because she identifies as Japanese and is legally considered as such doesn’t mean that she’s recognized that way by society, however, which is why her crowning as “Miss Japan” reignited a fierce debate about identity according to the BBC. This historically ethno-religiously homogenous country began opening its borders in recent years following its drastic population decline, and foreign-born residents are now almost 2.5% of the total, with most being Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.
While this statistic might appear miniscule to most observers, Karolina’s crowning as “Miss Japan” brought this gradual demographic shift into the open after the judges declared her the “Foremost Beauty of All Japanese Women”, which offended many ethnic Japanese. From their perspective, ancestry – not citizenship, language, or culture – is the crucial prerequisite for truly being considered Japanese, thus disqualifying Karolina in their mind and making her victory an insult to all ethnic Japanese women.
Liberal-globalists condemn this conservative-nationalist viewpoint as “bigoted, racist, and xenophobic”, but societies have the right to identify however they want, as well as acknowledge or withhold this from others based on widely agreed-upon criteria no matter how subjective they might seem. The context within Karolina was just crowned “Miss Japan” concerns Tokyo’s indirect arming of Ukraine with air defense systems via the US and its newfound embrace of immigration, thus suggesting political motives.
The first-mentioned are self-explanatory while the second requires a bit more explanation since readers might not be aware of this policy. Here’s what Bloomberg reported over the summer:
“The number of foreigners rose 11% from a year earlier to comprise 2.4% of the total population, or just under 3 million people…It often goes unremarked that the number of workers from overseas has more than doubled in the last decade alone, while the broader foreign community (including students and families) has risen 50%. Based on population projections, conversation has already been shifting to a future where foreigners will make up more than 10% of people in the country 50 years from now.”
What they omit is that the foreign-born population will likely have their own children at some point, thus leading to the non-ethnic Japanese population reaching much more than 10% in less than 50 years’ time.
The Western liberal-globalist (“progressive”) elite and their “fellow travelers” in Japan want to reshape this historically conservative-nationalist (traditional) society’s attitudes towards foreigners in order to facilitate this demographic shift. To that end, they’re leveraging their allies in civil society and the permanent bureaucracy, which explains why Karolina’s crowning as “Miss Japan” was arguably a form of politically driven “shock therapy” aimed at forcing ethnic Japanese to accept this emerging trend.
The veneration of one’s ancestors is an extremely important part of Japanese culture, which Ukrainian-born Karolina is unable to participate in due to her not being ethnically Japanese, nor do her ancestors share the same historical experience as her formal compatriots. Being a Japanese citizen, speaking Japanese, and participating in the outward expressions of its contemporary culture aren’t sufficient for her to be deemed Japanese by most of its people no matter how much she wishes otherwise.
The same goes for her 3 million or so fellow foreigners in the country, not to mention their descendants, but the support that they receive from liberal-globalists at home and abroad could lead to them exerting disproportionate influence in reshaping local attitudes with time as their numbers continue to grow. The goal is to erode the traditional concept of identity and ultimately replace it with a “progressive” version whereby official designations and media endorsements take precedence over ethno-ancestral ties.
The model that they plan to apply is a copy-and-paste of the one that they’ve already successfully imposed in America and Western Europe where the liberal-globalist socio-political elite apply maximum pressure on the historically conservative-nationalist masses to accept their new definition of identity. Some still resist, but the fear of being smeared as a “bigot, racist, and/or xenophobe” coerces most to passively accept this politically driven trend, which is also now being imposed in Poland too.
That country has a similar ethno-ancestral concept of identity as Japan does despite the centuries of ethno-religious diversity under the erstwhile Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth where Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Protestant Germans, and Orthodox Belarusians and Ukrainians lived under the same state. By contrast, Japan never had any such diversity in its history except for its foreign conquests in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, which makes it a much tougher nut for the liberal-globalists to crack in this case.
Karolina’s crowning as “Miss Japan” was meant to be a milestone in their plot to artificially manufacture a “progressive” notion of identity in this historically conservative-nationalist society, which’ll inevitably be followed by other examples of politically driven “shock therapy”. Average Japanese can’t do much to stop this either since their elite are beholden to the US’ liberal-globalists, who’ll force them to promote the imposition of this concept onto their compatriots in exchange for continued military support.