Princess Mako of Japan marries commoner and loses royal status | Way of life


TOKYO (AP) – Japanese Princess Mako married a commoner and lost her royal status on Tuesday in a union that divided public opinion and was delayed for more than three years by a financial dispute involving her new mother-in-law.

Mako and Kei Komuro’s marriage certificate was submitted 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 answer questions as Mako has shown fear and unease over the questions that would be asked, the agency said.

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

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

Mako, who turned 30 three days before the wedding, is a niece of Emperor Naruhito. 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 surfaced two months later and the marriage was suspended.

The dispute is over whether the money her mother received from her former fiance was a loan or a gift. Mako’s father asked Komuro for clarification and he wrote a statement to defend himself, but it is still unclear whether the dispute has been fully resolved.

Komuro, 30, moved to New York in 2018 to study law and only returned to Japan last month. Her hair, tied back in a ponytail, caught attention as a bold statement for someone marrying a princess in the traditionally tied Imperial family and only added to the criticism.

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

Mako also refused the 140 million yen ($ 1.23 million) dowry she was entitled to for leaving the Imperial family, palace officials said. She is the first member of the Imperial Family since World War II not to receive payment by marrying a commoner and chose to do so due to criticism of her marriage to a man some consider unworthy of the princess.

On Tuesday morning, she left the palace wearing a pale blue dress and holding a bouquet. She bowed in front of the residence to her parents, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, and her sister Kako, and then the sisters hugged.

The law of the imperial house only authorizes male succession. Female royals must relinquish their royal status when marrying a commoner – a practice that has resulted in a shrinking royal family size and a shortage of successors to the throne.

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

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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