The scandal raised questions about what it means to be Japanese in a country where homogeneity and conformity are still valued.
The Ukrainian-born winner of this year’s Miss Japan beauty pageant and the contest’s organisers say she has renounced her title after a magazine published an article about her affair with a married man.
Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Japan on 22 January, setting off public discussion on an old question about what it means to be Japanese in a country where homogeneity and conformity are still valued.
In a message posted on her Instagram site on Monday, Shiino said that after the article came out, she offered to hand back her crown and resign from her modelling agency over it.
She said her offer was accepted, and has not commented further on the incident.
The Weekly Bunshun magazine reported last week that Shiino had been in a relationship with a doctor who is married.
Initially, she appeared to confirm the relationship, but said she did not know he was married. But in a later statement, she said her earlier explanation “was not true” and that she had been aware of his marital status and the fact he had a family.
She claimed she was in a state of shock and fear over the report and panicked, which is why she was unable to tell the truth.
“I’m very sorry for causing the tremendous trouble and for acting as if betraying everyone who has supported me,” she said on Instagram.
Shiino also apologised to the man’s partner and his family, as well as other parties involved.
The office of Miss Japan organisers on Tuesday said that Shiino’s renunciation of the title had been accepted, and added that the slot for the 2024 winner would remain empty.
The organisation also said it “takes responsibility” for the scandal and apologised to sponsors, judges and others involved for “the trouble”.
It said it initially defended Shiino, based on her initial explanation that the man she was involved with had told her he was divorced and that she broke up with him when she learned otherwise.
The scandal reignited a wave of criticism of Shiino on social media, but also raised some questions about why she was the one blamed for the affair while the man who was involved with her has not made a single public comment.
In Japan’s patriarchal culture, women are still expected to be good mothers and wives, and are publicly chastised more than men when it comes to extra-marital affairs.
Last year, famous Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue’s acting agency suspended her indefinitely from her work contracts over her alleged affair with a married celebrity chef.
Shiino has lived in Japan since moving to the country at the age of 5. Fluent in Japanese, she became a citizen in 2022. She has said before that despite her Caucasian look, she feels a strong a sense of Japanese identity as anyone else.