Miss Japan 2024 Karolina Shiino has reportedly relinquished her title amid reports that she had an affair with a married man.
On 22 January, Shiino was crowned Miss Japan, sparking public discourse over what it means to be Japanese at a time when the country has continued to value homogeneity. The Ukrainian-born model has lived in Japan since the age of 5 and reportedly became a naturalised citizen in 2022.
According to the contest’s organisers, she has since renounced her title after an article published last week in the Weekly Bunshun exposed her affair with a married man.
The article revealed that Shiino had been in a relationship with “muscle doctor” influencer Takuma Maeda. Although she initially confirmed the relationship, she stressed that she was unaware that he was married. However, she later backtracked her previous statement, saying that it “was not true” and admitted that she had been aware that he was married with children.
Shiino posted on Instagram, saying that she offered to give up her crown and resign from her modeling agency. “I’m very sorry for causing tremendous trouble and for acting as if betraying everyone who has supported me,” she wrote in her Instagram post.
She apologised for lying, explaining that she was in complete shock and scared of the backlash when the report came out, which was why she lied. She also reportedly reached out and apologised to all involved parties.
On Tuesday, the office of the Miss Japan organisers confirmed that Shiino’s renunciation of the title was accepted and the slot for the 2024 winner would be empty. In light of the scandal, the organisation noted that it “takes seriously our responsibility for causing the ruckus” and apologised to their sponsors and judges as well as talent involved in the pageant.
At first, the organisation said they defended Shiino because they had believed her when she said that she didn’t know Maeda was still married. She had claimed that he had told her that he was divorced and that she had broken up with him as soon as she found out that wasn’t the case.
In his own Instagram post, Maeda reportedly posted a message on Instagram, saying that he had no intention of divorcing his wife and apologised for drama and strife he’s caused for both Shiino and his family.
Maeda notably has received less backlash than Shiino, primarily due to Japan’s male-dominated culture in which the public is much harder on women for being anything less than perfect. Extramarital affairs are often career-ending when exposed. Most notably, famed Japanese actor Ryoko Hirosue’s affair with a married celebrity chef led to her agency suspending all of her work contracts indefinitely, while his work continued.