The Ukrainian-born 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 January 22, sparking renewed public debate about what it means to be Japanese in a country where homogeneity and conformity are still valued.
In a message posted to Instagram on Monday, Shiino said that after the article came out, she offered to give up her crown and give up her modeling agency. She said her offers were accepted.
The Associated Press could not immediately reach Shiino for comment.
Weekly Bunshun magazine reported last week that Shiino had been in a relationship with a married doctor. Initially, she seemed to confirm the relationship, but she said she didn’t know he was married.
He later said that his previous explanation was “not true” and that he was aware of his marital status and that he had a family. She apologized and said that she was in shock and fear from the report and that she panicked, so she couldn’t tell the truth.
“I’m so sorry for causing this tremendous problem and acting like I betrayed everyone who has supported me,” he said on Instagram.
Shiino also apologized to the man’s partner and family, as well as other parties involved.
The organization said it “takes our responsibility for causing the uproar seriously” and apologized to sponsors, judges and others involved. She said that she defended Shiino at first, based on her initial explanation that the man she was involved with had told her that he was divorced from her and that she broke up with him when she found out otherwise.
The scandal reignited a wave of criticism of Shiino on social media, but also raised questions about why she was primarily blamed for the affair.
Women punished more than men for their affairs
The man involved, Takuma Maeda, an influencer known as “muscle doctor,” acknowledged on Instagram that he had no intention of divorcing his wife and apologized for causing problems for Shiino and others. He promised to dedicate himself sincerely to his work and his private life.
In male-dominated Japanese culture, women are expected to be good mothers and wives, and are publicly punished more than men for extramarital affairs.
Last year, famous Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue’s acting agency suspended her indefinitely from her employment contracts for her alleged affair with a married celebrity chef.
Shiino has lived in Japan since he arrived in the country when he was five years old. She speaks fluent Japanese and became naturalized in 2022. She has worked as a model and said that she has as strong a sense of Japanese identity as anyone else, despite her Caucasian appearance.