Priyanka Yoshikawa, who is half-Indian and half-Japanese, has been named Miss Japan 2016.

Priyanka Yoshikawa Wins Miss Japan 2016

On Monday, 22-year-old Yoshikawa became the second mixed race woman to receive the Miss Japan title. Yoshikawa, who has her elephant training license, is a daughter to an Indian father and a Japanese mother.

“Yes, my dad is Indian and I’m proud of it, I’m proud that I have Indian in me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not Japanese,” Yoshikawa told AFP news agency. “I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,” she added, “haafu” being the Japanese word for half. “When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ. Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.”

Last year, the Miss Japan crown went to Ariana Miyamoto, who, like Yoshikawa, is mixed race.

“Before Ariana, haafu girls couldn’t represent Japan,” said Yoshikawa. “That’s what I thought too. Ariana encouraged me a lot by showing me and all mixed girls the way.

Yoshikawa continued, “When I’m abroad, people never ask me what mix I am. As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too.”