Japanese princess to wed commoner

Princess Mako and her fiance Kei Komuro at a press conference to announce their engagement in Tokyo yesterday.
Princess Mako and her fiance Kei Komuro at a press conference to announce their engagement in Tokyo yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Japanese Emperor Akihito, will wed a former classmate, a commoner, the Imperial Household said yesterday.

The news confirms a marriage that will further deplete the royal family since she must become a commoner. The announcement was aired by public broadcaster NHK.

Princess Mako is one of only four royal grandchildren. The other three are her younger sister Kako and brother Hisahito, and Crown Prince Naruhito's daughter Aiko.

Prince Hisahito, 10, is one of four heirs to the throne behind Emperor Akihito's two middle-aged sons, whose wives are in their early 50s, and Emperor Akihito's octogenarian brother Masahito.

The engagement to Mr Kei Komuro, who works in a Tokyo law firm, comes after Japanese lawmakers in June approved a Bill to allow Emperor Akihito to step down, the first abdication by a Japanese monarch since 1817.

A year ago, the first emperor not to be considered divine said he feared age would make it hard to fulfil his duties. The 83-year-old has had heart surgery and been treated for prostate cancer.

But the Bill, which applies only to Emperor Akihito and not future emperors, makes no reference to the controversial topics of whether to revise a male-only succession law or to allow women to stay in the imperial family after marriage.

Princess Mako and Mr Komuro graduated from International Christian University.

She has a master's degree from the University of Leicester and has been working as a researcher at a museum.

Her fiance once served as a "Prince of the Sea" to promote tourism near Tokyo, according to media reports.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Japanese princess to wed commoner'. Print Edition | Subscribe