Overcoming scandal and PTSD, Princess Mako of Japan finally marries college sweetheart


TOKYO, Oct.26 (Reuters) – Princess Mako of Japan, the emperor’s niece, married her college boyfriend on Tuesday and left the royal family after years of engagement under the scrutiny that left the princess with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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

Their marriage consisted of an Imperial Household Agency (IHA) official, who runs family life, submitting documents to a local office in the morning, forgoing many of the usual royal wedding rituals and ceremonies, including a reception.

Mako also declined to receive a one-time payment of around $ 1.3 million typically made to royal women who marry commoners and become ordinary citizens, under Japanese law.

In the afternoon, the couple will hold a press conference, which will also depart from custom. While royals typically answer pre-submitted questions at such events, Mako and her new husband will make a brief statement and provide written answers to the questions instead.

“Some of the questions took misinformation as fact and upset the princess,” IHA officials said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Komuro, dressed in a dark suit and crisp tie, briefly bowed to the film crews gathered outside his home as he left in the morning, but said nothing. Her laid back demeanor on her return to Japan, including her long hair tied back in a ponytail, had caused a frenzy in the tabloids.

MONEY SCANDAL

Just months after announcing their engagement at a press conference where their smiles captured the hearts of the nation, tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance, with the man claiming that the mother and son had not repaid a debt of approximately $ 35,000.

The scandal spread to mainstream media after the IHA failed to provide a clear explanation. In 2021, Komuro released a 24-page statement on the matter and also said he would pay a settlement.

Opinion polls show the Japanese are divided over marriage, and there has been at least one protest.

Analysts say the problem is that the Imperial Family is so idealized that not the slightest hint of a problem with things like money or politics should touch them.

The fact that Mako’s father and younger brother, Hisahito, are both in the line of succession to Emperor Naruhito, whose daughter cannot inherit, makes the scandal particularly damaging, said Hideya Kawanishi, associate professor of history at Nagoya University.

“While it is true that they will both be private citizens, Mako’s younger brother will one day become emperor, so some people thought that anyone with the issues he (Komuro) was having shouldn’t marry him. “Kawanishi added.

The two will live in New York City, although Mako will remain alone in Tokyo for some time after the wedding to prepare for the move, including applying for the first passport in her life.

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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