Japan’s Princess Mako to give up royal status for love

By @chelean on
Princess Mako of Japan
FILE PHOTO - Japan's Princess Mako arrives before a meeting with Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes at the presidential residence in Asuncion, Paraguay September 8, 2016. Reuters/Jorge Adorno/File Photo

Princess Mako of Japan is giving up her royal status to marry her commoner boyfriend. The eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito will be marrying law firm worker Kei Komuro, a commoner who once starred in a tourist campaign as the “Prince of the Sea.”

Like UK’s Prince William who met his future spouse, commoner Kate Middleton, in college, Mako also met Komuro at the International Christian University in Tokyo in 2012. According to Japanese media, they were first introduced together at a party held to discuss studying abroad.

Mako’s parents, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, reportedly approved of their daughter’s relationship with a non-royal, even though it meant that Mako would have to give up being a royalty once she married Komuro. The Imperial Household Agency told CNN that plans are underway for the couple’s engagement.

Komuro, who works as a paralegal, declined to comment on his relationship when asked by reporters on Wednesday. “I would like to talk about it when the time comes,” he said instead. Mako and Komuro are both 25 years old.

Mako isn’t the first royal member marrying a commoner. In 1959, her grandfather, Emperor Akihito, married Michiko Shoda, who has since become Empress consort of Japan. She was the first commoner to marry in the imperial family.

Decreasing Japanese royal members

With Mako giving up her royal status, the Japanese imperial household continues to dwindle in number. The family only has 19 members, 14 are female. The Japanese imperial law has a male-only succession, which means only male heirs are allowed to inherit the throne. There are currently only four male heirs following Emperor Akihito: his sons Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Fumihito; Prince Hisahito, Mako’s younger brother and Fumihito’s son; and Prince Masahito, the emperor’s younger brother.

Last year, the emperor, 83, expressed his wish to abdicate from the throne, a move that is unheard of in Japan for nearly 200 years. Abdication isn’t also permitted, and so the country’s Cabinet is expected to approve a one-off bill to permit Emperor Akihito to step down. However, on the subject of allowing female royal members in succession, Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there would be no change in that regard to “ensure stable imperial succession.”

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