A Japanese emperor’s rebel niece who is set to turn down a $1.3million (over 1 billion kwacha) marriage payout ‘will announce her wedding date next month’ after being delayed for years.
Princess Mako of Japan, 29, the niece of the Emperor Naruhito, who is engaged to her former classmate and US law student fiancé, is expected to confirm a date for their low-key wedding in October.
She will give up her royal title to marry commoner Kei Komuro, also 29, who she met when they were both students at Tokyo’s International Christian University.
Japan’s imperial law requires a princess to leave the royal family after marrying a commoner but they are given a substantial wedding sum of ¥150 million (£1million) ‘to preserve the dignity of a person who was once a member of the imperial family’.
However, in an unprecedented break from country’s tradition Princess Mako is set to turn down the one-off million-dollar payment, clearing the way for a marriage delayed for years by financial controversy surrounding her fiancé.
The government is set to agree that the princess forego the payment amid public criticism over her fiancé, Japanese public broadcaster NHK and others said.
NHK also said the wedding date may be announced in October.
Officials of the Imperial Household Agency were not immediately available to comment.
A Japanese broadcaster, anticipating an imminent wedding, recently tracked down Komuro in New York. He was shown sporting a ponytail, a detail that has caused an uproar among some Japanese users of Twitter.
Princess Mako’s decision to forego the payment is likely due to the controversy around her fiancé, Komuro, that arose shortly after announcing their engagement in 2017.
Komuro proposed over dinner in December 2013, and the pair kept their their long-distance relationship under wraps while Mako studied for her master’s degree in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester in the UK.
The pair were expected to wed in November 2018 but the wedding was later postponed until 2020, with an official statement saying the couple needed more time to plan.
However, reports emerged suggesting Mr Komuro’s mother was involved in a financial dispute of which his in-laws disapproved and forced them to suspend the wedding.
According to reports, Mr Komuro’s mother had borrowed ¥4 million, or about £27,300, from an ex-boyfriend and then failed to repay it. According to Komuro, the money was paid over the duration of the man’s engagement to his mother, from 2010 to 2012.
When news of this emerged, the Imperial Household Agency reported the pair would postpone their wedding by two years, from November 2018 until 2020.
In a statement issued in January 2019, Mr Komuro explained his mother had offered to repay the sum, however her ex had ‘clearly stated that he did not expect the money to be repaid’.
However, the man then reportedly sent a letter to his mother in 2013 asking to be reimbursed. After consulting with an expert, Mr Komuro’s mother then met her ex and rejected his request.
Since that meeting, Mr Komuro said there had been no more developments on the issue until the story emerged in the media, reports Japan Times.
In the statement, Mr Komoru expressed his gratitude to his mother’s former fiance for providing financial assistance over the years and added that he hoped the pair could come to a mutual understanding.
In November 2020, Princess Mako told how, while the couple are ‘irreplaceable to each other’, there are still no ‘concrete plans’ of when they will eventually tie the knot, and that it’s difficult to tell ‘anything about the future’ at the moment.
‘For us, a marriage is a necessary choice to live and honour our hearts,’ said Mako in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency.
‘We are irreplaceable to each other, and we can lean on each other in happy times and in unhappy times.
‘It is difficult to tell anything concrete regarding our future plans and others at the moment.’
Now, Princess Mako and Mr Komoru are thought to be planning an imminent low-key wedding, expected to be held by the end of 2021.
According to reports in the Japanese media, the couple will also skip two formal Shinto betrothal ceremonies: the Nosai-no-Gi betrothal ceremony and the Choken-no-Gi, in which the bride offers a thank you and a farewell to Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
After her wedding, Mako will move to the United States where Mr Komoru is waiting for the results of his US law exams and where he intends to take up a job offer with a New York law firm.
Mr Komuro was working as a paralegal at a law firm in Tokyo prior to starting his studies at Fordham University in New York in August 2018.
Princess Mako’s aunt, Princess Sayako, became the last royal to be stripped of her status when she wed a Tokyo city official in 2005.