Japan princess will shun royal rituals to marry a ‘commoner’

Japan’s Princess Mako will finally marry next week after a lengthy engagement marked by intense scrutiny, but there will be no fairy tale wedding as the empress gives up her royal status to marry a commoner.

he emperor’s niece will wed Kei Komuro without ceremony on Tuesday in Tokyo before the two are expected to start their life together in the United States, where Mr Komuro works for a legal firm.

Amid an unresolved financial scandal involving her fiance, the princess has forsaken the usual ritual ceremonies, including a rite known as Choken no Gi in which an engaged royal officially meets the emperor and empress.

She has also declined a payout, worth €1.4m, which is customary for female members of Japan’s Chrysanthemum throne, who cannot retain their royal status after marrying commoners.

Instead, she visited her uncle, Emperor Naruhito, and aunt, Empress Masako, at the Imperial Palace last Friday. The princess also visited three sanctuaries in the grounds of the palace in Tokyo to announce her marriage to her ancestors and offer them her prayers.

Princess Mako met her fiance in 2012 at Tokyo’s International Christian University, where she studied art and cultural heritage.

The pair, both now 30, were engaged in Sept 2017, with their obvious mutual affection initially captivating the public.

“I’ll be happy if I can make a warm and comfortable family full of smiles,” Princess Mako told a news conference.

However, their wedding was delayed following a scandal after Japanese media reported Mr Komuro was involved in a financial dispute.

Tabloids reported that Mr Komuro’s mother had declined to repay her former partner four million yen (€30,000) after he paid for her son’s university education. His mother reportedly denied the payment was intended as a loan.

While Mr Komuro offered to repay the money himself, he has since been cast as a rogue in the media, where criticism has focused on trivial details of his life, including accusations that he might be of Korean-Japanese descent.

Many Japanese now hold an unfavourable view of the couple, with one opinion poll showing 93pc of respondents saying the wedding is not worth celebrating.

“The royal family should exist without troubles connected to money, the economy, or politics,” said Akinori Takamori, a lecturer at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo. “Morally, the Japanese people want them to be impeccable.”

The prolonged controversy has had a negative impact on Princess Mako, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the Imperial Household Agency announced earlier this month. But before the princess can begin her new life as a commoner, she must endure one final bout of media scrutiny.

In lieu of a royal wedding, the couple will hold a press conference on Tuesday after an official submits the necessary documents to register their union.

The princess will then immediately move out of her parent’s imperial residence to a Tokyo apartment. She will also need to complete mundane bureaucracy, including creating a family registry with Mr Komuro and applying for a passport, which Japanese royals do not hold, before she can move to New York.

Princess Mako’s 14-year-old brother, Prince Hashito, is second in line to the throne and the only heir of his generation.

The Japanese government has debated whether to allow female royals to retain their status after marrying commoners amid concerns that the royal family could one day die out. 

However, conservative Japanese society remains tightly committed to male primogeniture.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

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