Japan - Japan's Princess Mako marries non-royal boyfriend Kei Komuro
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Japan's Princess Mako marries non-royal boyfriend Kei Komuro


Story by Junko Ogura

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Published on October 26, 2021 11:09 AM
 
Some Japanese don't consider the commoner son of a single parent to be worthy of a princess; some media reports even painted him as an untrustworthy gold-digger. The couple had planned to marry in 2018, but their wedding was pushed back.
 
Japan's Princess Mako has married her non-royal college sweetheart Kei Komuro in a subdued ceremony, formally marking her departure from the royal family.

The couple submitted their registration at the local ward office around 10 a.m. local time Tuesday, according to the Imperial Household Agency, forgoing the usual pomp and circumstance of most royal weddings.

The newlyweds are expected to move to New York City, where Komuro works at a law firm.

Mako, who turned 30 over the weekend, announced her engagement with Komuro four years ago. But their union has been plagued by years of controversy, public disapproval and tabloid frenzy over a money scandal involving Komuro's mother. In an effort to appease a disapproving public, Mako turned down a one-off million-dollar payout from the government, which she was entitled to as a departing royal.

As the emperor's niece, Mako wasn't in line to the throne -- Japan's male-only succession law prevents that from happening. And under Japanese law, female members of the royal household must give up their titles and leave the palace if they marry a commoner.

Mako, who will no longer be known as princess, isn't the first woman to leave the Japanese royal family. The last royal to do so was her aunt, Sayako, the only daughter of...

Princess Mako of Akishino

Mako Komuro, formerly Princess Mako, is the first child and elder daughter of Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, and a former member of the Japanese imperial family. She is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, and is the eldest grandchild of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.

Biography

Early life and education

Mako Komuro was born Princess Mako on 23 October 1991 at Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo Imperial Palace, Chiyoda, Tokyo. She has a younger sister, Princess Kako, and a younger brother, Prince Hisahito. She was educated at the Gakushuin School in her Primary, Girls' Junior and Senior High School years. She studied English at University College, Dublin, in July–August 2010. She had an informal talk with the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, and she visited Northern Ireland.

Komuro graduated from the International Christian University in Mitaka, Tokyo on 26 March 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Art and Cultural Heritage. She obtained Japanese national certification in curation as well as a driver's licence while she was an undergraduate student. On 17 September 2014, she left for the United Kingdom where she studied at the University of Leicester for a year, receiving an MA degree in Art Museum and Gallery Studies on 21 January 2016. She also studied art history at the University of Edinburgh for nine months, from September 2012 to May 2013.

Weeks before her planned wedding, the Imperial Household Agency announced on behalf of Komuro that she had recently been diagnosed with complex PTSD by the head of the quality assurance room of the NTT Tokyo Medical Center. The diagnosis determined that the PTSD originated during her primary high school years but Komuro blamed the continued strong criticism about her then fiancé Kei Komuro by Imperial family members, media and many Japanese commoners. Komuro and her father declined the usual background check for marriage candidates by the Imperial Household Agency in advance to her engagement. Various scandals like alleged mariage and insurance fraud by Kei Komuro's mother and highschool bullying by Kei Komuro came to light soon after the announcement of her wedding.

In the media

She has been something of an internet idol since 2004, when images of her in sailor fuku appeared on television. An image repository was set up, and a video featuring fanart of Komuro was uploaded onto the popular video-sharing website Nico Nico Douga, attracting over 340,000 views and 86,000 comments. The Imperial Household Agency, responding to a request for comment, stated that they are not sure how they should handle this phenomenon, since they see no signs of slander or insults against the Imperial Family.

Public life

In 2011, Komuro came of age and was conferred Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown on 23 October. Since then, she has been attending official events as an adult member of the Imperial Family.

Official visits

December 2015 – El Salvador and Honduras
September 2016 – Paraguay
June 2017 – Bhutan
August 2017 – Hungary
July 2018 – Brazil
July 2019 – Peru and Bolivia
Personal interests
In August 2006, Komuro visited Vienna, Austria for two weeks on a school-sponsored homestay program. She stayed in the home of an Austrian man who was a colleague of Tatsuhiko Kawashima, her maternal grandfather. Because Komuro is interested in art and architecture, she visited the museums, St. Stephen's Cathedral and Schönbrunn Palace.

In July 2011, she worked as a volunteer in the affected areas of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami without revealing her identity.

She is able to communicate using Japanese Sign Language and is interested in the Deaf community, like her mother, Princess Akishino.

She became the project researcher of the University of Tokyo's museum on 1 April 2016.

Engagement and Marriage

In May 2017, it was announced that the Princess was expected to marry Kei Komuro, a graduate of International Christian University. The wedding was originally expected to take place in November 2018, but it was postponed for approximately four years due to Kei Komuro and his mother's involvement in a financial dispute over ¥4m she had received from her former fiancé, some of which went towards paying Komuro's tuition fees. The dispute resulted in the imperial family and the public's disapproval of the match. In September 2021 it was reported that the marriage will take place in the form of a simple ceremony at a government office, with the date later announced as 26 October 2021, three days after her 30th birthday. Just like her paternal aunt, Sayako, Princess Nori, and other princesses who married commoners in recent decades she will formally lose her imperial title and become a commoner upon marriage as required by Imperial Household Law. In light of all the scandals surrounding her future husband and his familiy, she also plans to forego the Japanese government's taxpayer funded payment of approximately $1.3m USD given to royal women upon leaving the Imperial Family.

Mako and Kei Komuro were scheduled to give a press conference after their wedding where they would address questions submitted in advance by the Japanese press. Several critical questions from the press drew such strong emotional reactions from princess Mako that a doctor decided that in light of the severity of her PTSD diagnosis, Mako would not be able to respond any question during a live press conference. The Imperial Household Agency announced that the couple will answer all questions in writing.

Since her wedding her name is Mako Komuro, her intention is move to New York with her husband who is employed by the New York-based law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

After her marriage with Kei on 26 October 2021, she will receive a registration in Japanese family registration system in order to obtain offical documents like a passport.

Awaiting her passport issuance and US Visa, she will move to her own residence in the Shibuya district in Tokyo as she is by law not allowed to live at her parents house inside the Imperial quarters.

Because of the public announcement of her PTSD diagnosis, the issuance of her US visa has also become uncertain.