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Ukrainian-Born Woman Relinquishes Miss Japan Title Due to Exposed Affair with Married Man

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TOKYO—The Ukrainian-born winner of this year’s Miss Japan beauty pageant and the contest’s organizers 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 Jan. 22, setting off renewed public debate over what it means to be Japanese.

In a message posted on Instagram on Monday, Ms. Shiino said that after the article came out, she offered to give up her crown and resign from her modeling agency. She said her offers were accepted.

The Associated Press could not immediately reach Ms. Shiino for comment.

The Weekly Bunshun magazine reported last week that Ms. 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.

Later, she said her earlier explanation “was not true” and that she was aware of his married status and that he had a family. She apologized and said she was in a state of shock and fear over the report and panicked, which is why she was not able to tell the truth.

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“I’m very sorry for causing the tremendous trouble and for acting as if betraying everyone who has supported me,” she said on Instagram.

Ms. Shiino also apologized to the man’s partner and his family, as well as other parties involved.

The office of the Miss Japan organizers on Tuesday said Ms. Shiino’s renunciation of the title was accepted and the slot for the 2024 winner would remain empty.

The organization said it “takes seriously our responsibility for causing the ruckus” and apologized to sponsors, judges, and others involved. It said it defended Ms. Shiino at first, 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 Ms. Shiino on social media.

The man who was involved, Takuma Maeda, an influencer known as “muscle doctor,” acknowledged on Instagram that he had no intention of divorcing his wife and apologized for causing trouble to Ms. Shiino and others. He pledged to sincerely devote himself to his work and private life.

Ms. Shiino has lived in Japan since moving to the country at the age of 5. Fluent in Japanese, she became a naturalized citizen in 2022. She has worked as a model and said she has as strong a sense of Japanese identity as anyone else, despite her Caucasian look.

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