Love knows no bounds, even for a princess who can lose her family ties and crown in favor for it. Princess Mako of Akishino, granddaughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, is reported to be engaged to a civilian. If this pushes through, Princess Mako will need to give up her royal status and leave the Imperial family as stipulated by the Imperial House Law.
According to The Japan Times, the eldest daughter of Prince Fumihito of Akishino and Princess Kiko met her prospective fiancé about five years ago through a friend. They reportedly met at a party held at a restaurant in Shibuya. Both attended International Christian University. The commoner who captured Princess Mako’s heart is Kei Komuro, 25, a graduate student at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. He also works at a law firm.
Komuro met with reporters Wednesday morning in the lobby of the law firm where he works in Chuo Ward in Tokyo. Pressed for details on their engagement, he said that he will talk about it when the “time is right.”
He did share a small conversation with the princess in which he said, “This morning, I said to (Princess Mako) over the phone, ‘I’m off now,’ and she said, ‘Talk to you later.'”
Komuro is a former bank employee and has been working for the law firm for a year. He is majoring in business law at the Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy. His boss revealed that Komuro had called him the previous night to apologize for not informing him of the engagement beforehand.
“Prince of the Sea”
When Komuro was 18, he was chosen as a tourism ambassador for Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. His profile at the time as “prince of the sea” declared that he liked to play the violin, cook and ski. It also said that his dream was to get involved in foreign affairs.
“He was like a prince. He was studying hard about Fujisawa so he could promote the city. Since he was fluent in English, he would actively talk with foreign people,” said Rina Namikawa, the chosen “queen of the sea” at the time Komuro was “prince.”
Komuro also worked part-time jobs at a French restaurant and taught English at a cram school during his university days.
“He treated everybody the same way and was popular among students,” head of the cram school, Yasushi Abe said. “He listened to the students’ worries and tried to come up with solutions with them.”
— Nippon.com (@nippon_en) May 17, 2017
Meanwhile, Princess Mako is the first member of the Imperial family to attend university. She majored in arts and cultural property studies at International Christian University (ICU) in April 2010. She also studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as an exchange student for nine months when she was a junior in ICU. When she graduated, she went on to continue her studies at the University of Leicester in England. She obtained her master’s degree in art museum and gallery studies in January 2016.
The princess is currently working as an affiliate researcher at the museum of the University of Tokyo. She is also pursuing further studies in a doctoral program at the ICU.
Princess Mako has already introduced Kei Komuro to her parents, Prince Akishino (the younger brother of Crown Prince Naruhito) and Princess Kiko. They have reportedly approved of the union. Meanwhile, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have been made aware of the engagement. The formal announcement is expected in mid-June, with the wedding to be held next year. This will be the first engagement among the Emperor and Empress’ four grandchildren.
Once Princess Mako’s wedding pushes through, the number of the Imperial family members will drop by 18, with the female members to 13. Currently, Mako’s youngest brother, Prince Hisahito, is the third and the last in line to the throne, after his uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito and his father Prince Akishino.
Princess Mako’s wedding is said to likely renew a public debate about whether women should be allowed to retain Imperial status after marriage and whether they should be allowed to rise to the throne. Since the Imperial House Law allows only male members of the Imperial family to rise to the throne, officials have been deeply concerned over the future of succession.
News of Princess Mako’s wedding and her leaving her royal status comes days before the government is expected to finalize a bill that will enable the 83-year-old Emperor to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne to Prince Naruhito. This is the first abdication in Japan in two centuries.
[Featured Image by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Images]