Beauty Pageants

Miss Universe Japan 2020 dominated by biracial women; Aisha Harumi Tochigi wins crown

Miss Universe Japan is seemingly making a statement to promote the beauty of hafus or biracial citizens in Japan. In its 23rd edition, four of the candidates in the Top 5 are of mixed race.

The Miss Universe Japan 2020 preliminary round was held on October 23, 2020. The judges were makeup artist Kodo Nishimura, Miss Universe Japan 2003 Miyako Miyazaki, NHK World Japan reporter Jason Hancock and Miss Universe Japan 2008 Hiroko Mima, who is also the Miss Universe Japan national director.

Miyazaki returned as a judge during the coronation night, which took place at the Yamano Hall in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan on October 29, 2020. She was joined by Miss Universe Japan 2011 Maria Kamiyama, Miss Universe Japan 2018 Yuumi Kato, “NHK World Medical Frontiers” host Erica Angyal and Defense and Cabinet Office parliamentary vice minister Rui Matsukawa.

Kilala Watanabe (渡辺 耀) was the only one in the Top 5 who is not hafu. Second runner-up Yuki Sonoda (園田 悠希) is Filipino-Japanese while fourth runner-up Marina Little (リトル 満里菜) is Kiwi-Japanese.

Besting 29 other candidates, Ghanaian-Japanese candidate Aisha Harumi Tochigi (杤木 愛シャ 暖望), 24, of Chiba won the Miss Universe Japan 2020 title. Runner-up to her is Raimu Kaminashi (上梨 ライム), who is Nigerian-Japanese.

“I’d like to spread that nobody should be judged by their color (or) from… where they come from because this year, there was so much discrimination,” Tochigi said in the question-and-answer portion. “It’s not only about racism but there was discrimination towards ages when COVID-19 started so I’d like to tell people that we shouldn’t judge people by their appearance but understand them, understand each other. It is the key to end discrimination. I’d like to spread that. Thank you.”

It was Tochigi’s second time to compete in the beauty pageant that selects Japan’s representative to Miss Universe. When Tochigi joined Miss Universe Japan 2019, she finished in the Top 5, losing to Ako Kamo (加茂 あこ) of Hyōgo, who was unplaced in Miss Universe 2019.


Born on January 4, 1996 to a Ghanaian father and Japanese mother, Tochigi grew up in Japan and has been involved in volunteer activities both in Japan and Ghana since 2006. She is 5’8″.

Tochigi is the second Miss Universe Japan who is hafu or of mixed race. The first one was Miss Universe 2015 Ariana Miyamoto (宮本 エリアナ), 26, of Nagasaki, the last representative from Japan to place in Miss Universe.

Miyamoto is African-American-Japanese. She finished in the Top 10 in Miss Universe 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, which was won by Pia Wurtzbach, 31, of the Philippines.

If Tochigi wins Miss Universe 2020, she will the beauty pageant’s third title holder from Japan. The first two were Miss Universe 1959 Akiko Kojima (児島 明子) and Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori (森 理世).

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