Japan's Princess Mako to marry commoner after delay and controversy

The marriage between Japan's Princess Mako and former college classmate Kei Komuro is set to proceed on 26 October.

Japanese Princess Mako and Kei Komuro announced their engagement at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo on 3 September 2017.

Japanese Princess Mako and Kei Komuro announced their engagement at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo on 3 September 2017. Source: AAP

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 26 October, 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.

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

Japan's imperial succession rules mean that Princess 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 Mr 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.

Japanese Princess Mako delivers a message during the opening ceremony of the International Ceramics Festival Mino on 30 September 2021.
Source: AAP

Kei 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 11 October.

Princess Mako will become the first royal to forego traditional marriage rites and a payment - reportedly up to $A1.9 million (150 million yen) - 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's Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

Princess 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.

Published 1 October 2021 at 6:44pm
Source: AFP - SBS