The Ukraine-born winner of the Miss Japan beauty pageant has given up her crown after a tabloid report revealed her affair with a married man.
Karolina Shiino, 26, was crowned Miss Japan two weeks ago but her win sparked public debate due to her heritage.
While some welcomed the naturalised citizen’s crowning, others said she didn’t represent traditional Japanese beauty ideals.
Amid the furore, a local magazine published an expose alleging an affair.
The article in the Shukan Bunshun reported that Ms Shiino had engaged in a relationship with a married influencer and doctor. The man has not provided any public comment.
In its initial response to the report last week, the pageant organisers defended Ms Shiino, saying she hadn’t known the man was married.
However on Monday, organisers said she had confessed to knowing about the man’s marriage and family.
She had apologised for being misleading and organisers had accepted her title resignation, the Miss Japan Association said.
Ms Shiino also apologised to her fans and the general public in a statement on Monday, where she said she had acted out of fear and panic in response to the report.
“I am truly sorry for the huge trouble I have caused and for betraying those who supported me,” she said.
The Miss Japan title will now remain vacant for the rest of the year, although there were several runner-ups.
The competition had crowned Ms Shiino on 22 January – the first person of European descent to be given the honour. She was born in Ukraine before moving with her mother to Japan when she was five and taking on her step-father’s Japanese last name.
She speaks and writes fluent Japanese and became a naturalised citizen in 2022.
Upon receiving the title, she had said in her speech: “I had not been accepted as Japanese many times, but I am filled with gratitude to have been recognized as Japanese today.”