In Japan the preference for skin that is white and free of blemishes has been around for centuries. There is an old proverb (色の白いは七難隠す iro no shiroi wa shichinan kakusu) which translates to “white skin covers the seven flaws,” meaning a fair-skinned woman is beautiful even if her features are not attractive.
In Japan and many other places in east Asia, dark skinned people are looked down upon. Everyone strives to be white- every skin product has whitening in it and everyone stays out of the sun.
Historically, dark skin was associated with people who worked in the fields aka poor people. The upper class stayed indoors and in the shade. Asian countries like Japan often try to classify the issue as a “class” problem as opposed to race. However just like most other places in the world, the consistent factor is that the people on the bottom of any class system always seem to be the dark-skinned people.