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Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and her fiancee Kei Komuro, a university friend of Princess Mako, smile during a press conference to announce their engagement at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Shizuo Kambayashi/Pool

Japan’s Princess Mako has married her non-royal college sweetheart Kei Komuro in a subdued ceremony, formally marking her departure from the royal family, thus losing her royal status.

Under Japanese law, female imperial family members forfeit their status upon marriage to a “commoner” although male members do not.

She also skipped the usual rites of a royal wedding and turned down a payment offered to royal females upon their departure from the family. She is the first female member of the royal family to decline both.

Mako and fiance Kei Komuro, both 30, announced their engagement four years ago, a move initially cheered by the country. But things soon turned sour as tabloids reported on a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn on him. The marriage was postponed, and he left Japan for law studies in New York in 2018 only to return in September.

Their marriage consisted of an official from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, submitting paperwork to a local office in the morning, foregoing the numerous rituals and ceremonies usual to royal weddings, including a reception.

At a press event in the afternoon, Mako appeared alongside her husband in front of a selected group of journalists. The newlyweds apologized for any trouble caused by their marriage and expressed gratitude to those who supported them.

The newlyweds are expected to move to New York City, where Komuro works at a law firm.

The reaction to Princess Mako and Kei Komuro’s relationship by some media and people in Japan, has highlighted the pressure women in Japan’s imperial family face.

The Imperial Household Agency has said Princess Mako suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the harsh criticism from the media and on social media around her engagement since it was announced nearly four years ago.

She is not the first woman in the Japanese royal family to be affected this way.

Her grandmother Empress Emerita Michiko temporarily lost her voice nearly 20 years ago when criticised by the media as being somehow unfit to be the Emperor’s wife. Her aunt-in-law Empress Masako, suffered depression after she was blamed for failing to produce a male heir.

Team Eastern Interest
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