TOKYO - Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter Princess Mako and her boyfriend will meet the press together, for the first time, on Sept 3 to announce their engagement, Kyodo News cited the Imperial Household Agency as saying on Thursday (Aug 17).
The couple had originally planned to make the announcement on July 8, but out of consideration for disaster caused by heavy rain that hit south-western Japan prefectures earlier that month, they decided to postpone the formal announcement.
The Imperial Household Agency had suggested earlier this month that Princess Mako and Kei Komuro, both 25, set another date for the announcement. The agency also confirmed reconstruction efforts have been carried out in the devastated areas.
The Sept 3 date was fixed after the adjustment of schedules for the emperor, Empress Michiko, and the princess's parents Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko. Prince Akishino is the emperor's second son, and Princess Mako has two younger siblings: Princess Kako and Prince Hisahito.
On the morning of Sept 3, Emperor Akihito will carry out a procedure to approve their marriage, Kyodo News reported.
Agency chief Shinichiro Yamamoto will then hold a press conference to announce the couple's engagement after reporting to the Emperor and Empress, as well as the princess's parents, that he would make the public announcement.
The couple's engagement will be formalised through a traditional rite of betrothal known as Nosai no Gi. That will be followed by a number of ceremonies in the run-up to their wedding likely to be held next year, Kyodo News said.
Princess Mako met Mr Komuro about five years ago through a friend at International Christian University, and later accepted a marriage proposal from him.
Mr Komuro, who lives in Yokohama, was a student at International Christian University in Tokyo. He is now a graduate student at Tokyo's Hitotsubashi University and also works at a law firm.
Princess Mako has a master's degree from the University of Leicester and has been working as a researcher at a museum.
In line with Japanese Imperial household law, she will lose her royal status after marrying a commoner.
The last marriage of a Japanese princess took place in October 2014 when Princess Noriko, a daughter of Emperor Akihito's late cousin Prince Takamado, tied the knot with Kunimaro Senge, the eldest son of the chief priest of Izumo Taisha, a Shinto shrine in Shimane Prefecture.
The Japanese government has been considering a system whereby the royal status of former female members can be reinstated, thus allowing them to perform some official duties, sources said.
There is the option of commissioning official duties to married women who were from the imperial family, an aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, amid concerns over the shrinking pool of royals in Japan.
After Princess Mako gets married, the number of imperial family members will drop to 18, of whom 13 will be women.