Karolina Shiino, the Ukrainian-born model who last month was crowned Miss Japan, has relinquished her title, the competition organizers announced on Monday. The news comes just a few days after the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine published a story about a relationship she was having with a married man named Takuma Maeda. An influencer who also happens to be a doctor, he posted a handwritten letter on his Instagram page on Friday apologizing for “causing discomfort to many people.” Shiino, meanwhile, claimed that she thought he was single and ended the relationship after she realized he was married. 

On Monday, however, Free Wave Co., Shiino’s model agency, released a statement confirming that she had, in fact, continued seeing him after she learned he was married. She subsequently relinquished her Miss Japan Grand Prix title. The association’s website, which last week supported Shiino following the article, stated that she had “requested to withdraw from the contest due to personal reasons.” Accepting the request, it added that the “Miss Japan 2024 Grand Prix will be declared vacant.” Taking to Instagram, Shiino apologized for the “huge trouble” she caused and for “betraying” those who supported her.  

Who is Karolina Shiino? 

Born in Ternopil to Ukrainian parents in 1998, Shiino moved to Japan at the age of 5 after her mother remarried a Japanese man. Though she grew to feel Japanese in both “speech and mind,” over time she had a complex because people commented on how she looked different. Her goal was to “create a society where people are not judged by their appearance.” This led to her applying for the Miss Japan contest after she acquired Japanese citizenship in 2022.  On January 22 of this year, Shiino became the first person of European descent to win the competition.  

Online Debate  

The 26-year-old’s victory garnered a mixed response from netizens, sparking an online debate on what it meant to be Japanese. Now that she has given up her title, the conversation has switched to Japan’s response to extra-marital affairs and whether there are double standards when it comes to men and women. In 2016, the career of popular television personality Becky took a huge hit when Shukan Bunshun revealed that she had been in a relationship with musician Enon Kawatani, who was married at the time. 

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