Saturday, November 27

Princess Mako of Japan marries a commoner and loses her royal status

Japanese princess Mako married a commoner and lost her royal status on Tuesday in a union that divided public opinion and was delayed more than three years over a financial dispute involving her new mother-in-law.

Mako and Kei Komuro’s marriage document was presented by a palace official on Tuesday morning and is now official, the Imperial Household Agency said. They will make statements at an afternoon press conference, but will not take questions because Mako showed fear and concern about the questions that would be raised, the agency said.

Mako is recovering from what palace doctors described earlier this month as a form of traumatic stress disorder that she developed after seeing negative media coverage of her marriage, especially the attacks on Komuro.

There will be no wedding banquet and there have been no other rituals for the bride and groom. Their marriage is not celebrated by many people, the agency said.

Mako, who turned 30 three days before the wedding, is Emperor Naruhito’s niece. She and Komuro were classmates at Tokyo International Christian University when they announced in September 2017 that they intended to marry the following year, but the financial dispute arose two months later and the wedding was called off.

The dispute involves whether the money her mother received from her ex-fiancé was a loan or a gift. Mako’s father asked Komuro for clarification, and he wrote a statement defending himself, but it is not yet clear if the dispute has been fully resolved.

Komuro, 30, left for New York in 2018 to study law and only returned to Japan last month. Her hair, tied in a ponytail, captured attention as a bold statement for someone marrying a princess in the tradition-bound imperial family and only added to the criticism.

No longer a royal, Mako has now taken her husband’s last name, an issue that plagues most other Japanese women as the law requires married couples to use only one last name.

Mako has also rejected the 140 million yen (1.06 million euro) dowry he was entitled to for leaving the imperial family, palace officials said. She is the first member of the imperial family since World War II to go unpaid while marrying a commoner and decided to do so due to criticism about her marriage to a man who some consider unsuitable for the princess.

On Tuesday morning, she left the palace in a pale blue dress and carrying a bouquet of flowers. He bowed in front of the residence before his parents, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, and his sister Kako, then the sisters embraced.

The Imperial House Law only allows male succession. Female members of the royal family must renounce their royal status when marrying a commoner, a practice that has resulted in a decrease in the size of the royal family and a dearth of successors to the throne.

After Naruhito, there are only Akishino and his son, Prince Hisahito, in the line of succession. A government-appointed panel of experts is discussing a stable succession to the Japanese monarchy, but conservatives still reject female succession or allowing female members to head the imperial family.

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