Tokyo – Reuters
Japan’s Princess Mako, the niece of Emperor Naruhito, married a former classmate on Tuesday after a years-long betrothal, entering the wedlock but graduating from the imperial family under laws that require females to give up their titles if they marry commoners.
Mako and Kei Komuro, 30, announced their engagement four years ago, a move that was welcomed at the time in Japan. But things quickly turned upside down after tabloids reported a financial scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn against him. The marriage was postponed and Komuro left Japan to study law in the United States in 2018 before returning in September.
Mako suffered from psychological problems and developed post-traumatic stress disorder due to the troubles she experienced during the engagement period, the scandal, and the intense media scrutiny of her engagement. The wedding was limited to completing the official papers required for marriage to move away from the usual ceremonies of imperial weddings, including the reception.
Mako refused to receive the $1.3 million normally obtained for one-time women of the imperial family who marry commoners and become ordinary citizens under Japanese law.
Mako appeared in television footage, wearing a simple light-colored dress and a pearl necklace, as she bid farewell to her parents and her 26-year-old sister Kaku at the entrance to their home. Although they were all wearing masks in keeping with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen battling tears.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mako and her new husband are holding a press conference, which is also out of the ordinary. While members of the imperial family usually answer questions submitted in advance on such occasions, the spouses make a brief statement and provide written responses to questions instead.
Opinion polls show the Japanese are divided on marriage. Analysts say that the imperial family enjoys such high status that some people do not accept any blemishes such as financial or political conflict.