Juri Watanabe was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2021 during the finals held September 22 in Tokyo. The 25-year-old Japanese-Korean MBA graduate from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) bested 32 other finalists for the title. She will represent the Islands at the 70th Miss Universe competition in Eilat, Israel in December. She succeeded 2020 winner Aisha Tochigi.
Asked during the final Q&A about the current state of women in Afghanistan, Watanabe said: “I believe it is very unfortunate that women are losing their rights. From the moment that women are born, we are disadvantaged, but women deserve to be heard, deserve to have a voice in society, that is why I stand with them. I believe that women have the power to change the world and the women in Afghanistan deserve the same rights that all the privileged women do.”
A proud half-Japanese and half-Korean beauty, Juri has grown up in Japan, China and the United States. Throughout her experiences she has realized the identity is not something we are born with but it is something that is fluid and changes over time. Through the Miss Universe platform, she hopes to bring awareness to the idea that we can come from different backgrounds but still share a common experience and to help others out there who face similar struggles. Juri speaks fluent English making her a strong and ideal representative for the international platform.
She is not a newbie to pageantry. Watanabe won Miss Asia USA 2016. She competed in Miss World Japan 2019 representing Kyoto and placed among the Top 10.
The 2021 Miss Universe Japan’s court includes Izumi Nishida as first runner-up, while Airi Hasoo finished second runner-up. Saria Oikawa and Sachino Fukuuchi were third and fourth runners-up, respectively.