Japan: Princess Mako married after years of controversy

the essential Princess Mako of Japan got married on Tuesday to a commoner, four years after her engagement. The niece of the Emperor of Japan lost her royal title. The couple will soon settle in New York.

Princess Mako, niece of the Emperor of Japan, got married on Tuesday after years of controversy over her union with her commoner fiance Kei Komuro, but she gave up the pomp of traditional rites and significant financial compensation . “The marriage documents have been presented and accepted,” said a representative of the Imperial Agency. Japanese television showed Mako leaving Akasaka’s imperial residence in Tokyo and bidding farewell to his family, bowing to his parents and hugging his sister.

The imperial institution had clarified earlier this month that the wedding ceremony, reception banquet and other rituals would not take place and that a lump sum payment usually given to women of the imperial household who marry commoners , and up to 54 million yen (1.2 million euros), would not be granted.

Emperor Naruhito’s niece, who was 30 years old this weekend, lost her title royal when she and Kei Komuro registered their marriage, a customary situation for women of the lineage, but she is the first in the history of post-war Japan to refuse the allowance. Mako and Mr. Komuro, who works for an American law firm, announced their engagement in 2017, all shy smiles. But the union does not start in the best conditions, the Imperial Agency having indicated that the princess suffered from a “complex” syndrome of post-traumatic stress because of the media coverage surrounding her person and her family.

A difficult atmosphere

The daughter of Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother has endured years of criticism and procrastination over her marriage plan with Kei Komuro, 30 years also, attacked for allegations that his mother borrowed money from a former fiancé and failed to repay him.

This quarrel, which is still not settled, caused a scandal in Japan, where irreproachable behavior is expected from members of the imperial family. The wedding was postponed and Kei Komuro left to 2018 to the United States to continue his law studies. He only returned to Japan last month, sporting a front page ponytail that he has since cut.

Despite the negative media tone, and some demonstrations against this union, a little more than half of the population (53 %) supports it, according to a poll of the daily Yomiuri published this Tuesday, only 33% of people surveyed saying they don’t look favorably on her.

“These three years must have been long for her, so I’m really happy that this day has finally arrived,” said Mayu Ogura, 26 years old, questioned near the imperial palace. “It would have been better if the general atmosphere was at the party but this difficult atmosphere is rather sad”, regretted Shigeru Hashimoto, 53 years.

La princesse Mako quitte la résidence familiale à Tokyo, ce mardi 26 octobre.
Princess Mako leaves the family residence in Tokyo this Tuesday 26 October. Photo MaxPPP

Comparison with Harry and Meghan

The couple are expected to move to New York soon, which inevitably arouses comparisons with another royal couple, British this one: Prince Harry and Megan Markle. It is not yet known whether Mako will work once there, but she is well qualified, having studied art and cultural heritage at International Christian University in Tokyo, where she met Mr Komuro, and spent a year. at the University of Edinburgh. She also holds an MA in Museum Studies from the UK University of Leicester.

In Japan, the throne can only be passed down to male family members, and the children of royal women who marry commoners are not included. Changing these rules was the subject of debate, and in July a group of government experts compiled notes on the matter, including a proposal to keep royal women in the family, even after their wedding.

However, any change to the system is likely to be long in coming, with hard-line supporters and traditionalists vehemently opposing any measures to allow women to rule.

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