Japan’s Princess Mako to marry after delay and controversy


TOKYO – After years of controversy, Japan’s Princess Mako will marry this month, but she will forego traditional rites and will not take a usual payment given to royal women marrying commoners.

The Imperial Household Agency said Friday that Princess Mako, who is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, will marry Kei Komuro on October 26, local media reported.

But the union has come under criticism, with the agency telling reporters that the 29-year-old princess was suffering complex post-traumatic stress disorder because of media coverage.

Mako, who is the daughter of Japan’s crown prince, has enduring years of sniping and stalling over her plans to marry Komuro, also 29.

Japan’s imperial succession rules mean that Mako will lose her title after the marriage.

But her partner has still been heavily scrutinised over allegations that his mother borrowed money from a former fiance and failed to repay it.

After tabloid reporting on the claims, a furore erupted around the young couple in a country where the royal family is held to an exacting standard.

The pair postponed their wedding, and Komuro moved to the US for law school in a move that was widely seen as a bid to defuse the negative attention.

Crown Prince Akishino last year said that he supported his daughter’s marriage, but that she needed to win the public’s “understanding”.

However the pair appear to have decided they have waited long enough, and are now expected to move to New York after marrying.

Komuro returned to Japan earlier this week to a media frenzy, with particular scrutiny of his newly grown ponytail.

He is currently observing Japan’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for overseas arrival, and local media said the couple were expected to reunite for the first time in around three years after he emerges on October 11.

Mako will become the first royal to forego traditional marriage rites and a payment — reportedly up to $1.3 million — since World War II, according to local media.

The tumult around her marriage, and the couple’s decision to move to the United States, have made for inevitable comparisons with another royal couple: Britain Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

Mako is sister to Prince Hisahito, 15, currently the only eligible male heir to the throne other than his father.

Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne can pass only to male members of the family, and the children of female royals who marry outside the aristocracy are not included.

The strict rules have raised fears for the future of the royal family, with just two male heirs and no prospect of new ones for years to come.

But attempts to debate succession reform have met with staunch opposition from traditionalists.