Unlike Miss Universe (which crowned an American winner – Miriam Stevenson – only three years after it started) and Miss World (which rewarded a Miss UK representative – Rosemarie Frankland – with the title eleven years after the pageant’s inception), Miss International finally approved of a hometown victor – Ikumi Yoshimatsu – more than five decades after its very first edition last 1960. Japanese discipline and patience, you might add? Regardless, that one and only shining moment (so far) last 2012 was not without controversies.
Ikumi – who is an actress, stunt woman and book author – reigned as Miss International 2012 but never reached full circle in terms of crowning her successor a year after (Miss International 2008 Alejandra Andreu crowned our very own Bea Rose Santiago as Miss International 2013). In this article by the Tokyo Weekender back in 2013 where she spoke in a Press Conference in front of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan:
What should’ve been the greatest year of her life turned into a nightmare for Ikumi Yoshimatsu. Soon after becoming Japan’s first recipient of the Miss International crown at the back end of 2012 she was allegedly being harassed and threatened by a powerful talent agency executive named Genichi Taniguchi—aka Motokazu Taniguchi—of Burning Productions. Her crime: The refusal to sign a contract with his company due to concerns over their links with the yakuza…
Ikumi stated that:
“It was on December 30 2012,” she tells Weekender over the phone. “He came in screaming, started chasing me and then finally grabbed my arm and tried to abduct me. After that he sent a private investigator to my house to look through my windows and take photos. He also tried to blackmail my family and threaten them.
For over a year now I’ve been afraid and that feeling has intensified since revealing his name in public. Nobody has done that before so of course I was really worried about it, but I realized what a huge problem this was in Japanese society and how many women live their lives in fear. I knew it was something I had to do. It was completely my own choice.”
Check out the entire article because it reads like a suspense-drama plot for Netflix release. Life can indeed be stranger than fiction.
Perhaps, it will take a decade or two before another Japanese would even make it to the top in Miss International. But that shouldn’t be cause for concern with the locals. They do have pride in seeing a Miss Japan win the crown. But I reckon that they would rather see more of an Akiko Kojima or Riyo Mori in Miss Universe or a very first Miss World maybe?
Have a reflective Good Friday, dear readers!