The 'Meghan and Harry of Japan', Princess Mako and Kei Komuro prepare their wedding
On October 26, Princess Mako of Japan will marry Kei Komuro. A wedding which should be celebrated as a happy event, but which is nevertheless controversial in the 'Land of the Rising Sun.'
Mako of Akishino is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family. She is the niece of the current Emperor of Japan Naruhito and the daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito. But the 29-year-old has chosen to relinquish her title out of love.
In 2012, Princess Mako met her future husband at the International Christian University in Tokyo, where she studied art and science. Kei Komuro, also a student, and the princess got to know each other thanks to a mutual friend.
Little information circulates on the life of Kei Komuro, who remains very discreet. However, we know that he is the son of an employee from Yokohama, Japan and that his father died when he was very young. He is, therefore, a commoner who is about to marry the young Japanese Princess.
Kei Komuro left Japan in August 2018 to complete his law studies in New York. The 30-year-old now works at a Manhattan law firm.
After several years of maintaining a discreet relationship, Princess Mako and Kei Komuro announced their engagement in September 2017. The whole country received this news very well at first, even though the Princess had to give up her titles by marrying a man who did not descend from a royal family.
Indeed, Article 12 of the Imperial House stipulates that by marrying a commoner, the women of the family renounce their royal titles. Men of the Imperial line, on the other hand, are allowed to marry any woman they choose, whether or not a member of the dynasty, without having to give up their privileges.
Mako's aunt, Sayako Kuroda, also gave up her royal titles when she married a commoner in 2005. She became a Japanese citizen like the others and had to leave the family palace.
A few months after the engagement announcement, Japanese media brought to light a financial dispute that existed in the Princess Mako's fiancé's family. The issue has become so huge that it has turned the fairy tale of Princess Mako and Kei Komuro upside down ...
In the 1990s, Kei Komuro's mother allegedly borrowed 4 million yen (close to $35,000) from her former partner to pay for part of her son's studies. According to Japanese tabloids, the sum was never reimbursed. Young Kei is accused of wanting to take advantage of his bride's money. This information caused the public's opinion to change. They began to disapprove of the marriage; in Japan, it is frowned upon for a Princess to marry a man from an indebted family.
The couple's wedding was originally scheduled for November 2018. However, the financial issue that had the whole country talking caused the marriage to be postponed. The engaged couple tried to be discreet about it. Kei Komuro returned to the United States to finish his studies, and the Princess continued with her research at the Christian University of Tokyo. Nonetheless, rumors of a breakup flourished...
Following the financial scandal, the couple remained silent until November of 2020. At her father's request, Princess Mako made a statement that clarified that the marriage would still take place. "We are irreplaceable to each other -- someone to rely on during both happy and unhappy times. So a marriage is a necessary choice for us to live while cherishing and protecting our feelings."
Princess Mako added that due to the global COVID pandemic, it was challenging to set a date for the wedding, saying, "it is still difficult to announce something specific at this time," and they would "consult our families in order to go ahead with the marriage."
On October 1, the Imperial Household Agency (the Kunaichō) announced that the wedding would take place on October 26, 2021. Four years after the announcement of the engagement, the marriage will finally be celebrated, but the Agency specified that the ancestral rites would not be followed.
Since the marriage of the couple is so controversial, they are not entitled to the traditional rites that take place before and during an Imperial wedding. Thus, the bride and groom will not perform the Nosai-no-Gi , a ritual in which the two families exchange gifts, nor the Choken-no-Gi , marking the official meeting between the bride and groom and the Emperor. The ceremony will be discreet, celebrated in small groups, and will end with a press conference.
Since Princess Mako must renounce her titles on the same day as her wedding, she must also return her tiara. The tiara was presented to her on her twentieth birthday. Out of principle, the Princess decided to refuse the state dowry amounting to roughly $1.4 million in compensation for losing her titles.
The Japanese media's obsession with her marriage has led the Princess to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In any case, this is the diagnosis announced by the Imperial Palace. The disenchantment of the Japanese people towards her could also be one of the reasons for Mako's unhappiness: "...their marriage is not praised by many people," acknowledged the Palace.
For the first time in nearly three years, Kei Komuro returned to Japan at the end of September. He arrived at Tokyo's Nanta Airport by where numerous reporters awaited, to who he solemnly bowed on arrival. However, the Japanese public was scandalized by his hair as Kei was sporting a ponytail.
Immediately after the wedding, the couple will move to the United States, far from controversy. It is a choice reminiscent of that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who also chose to flee from their lives as Royals.