Japan Emperor Naruhito's niece Princess Mako's impending marriage to a former college mate has stirred an unprecedented media frenzy in the country. The elder daughter of Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, Mako announced her engagement to Kei Komuro, her classmate at International Christian University, in 2017. The couple were set to get married in 2018.
In a poll by Japan's Mainichi newspaper, only 38% of respondents supported the Mako- Komuro marriage, while 35% opposed it and 26% expressed no interest. Aera, a weekly magazine, found that only 5% of respondents felt like celebrating the marriage, while 91% said they had no interest.
While the news initially received a favourable reaction from the public, tabloid reports of Komuro's mother being embroiled in a financial dispute with her former fiance prompted Japan's imperial family to announce that the marriage had been called off for two years. Mako and Komuro are getting married next month sans any official pomp because their marriage is not fully supported by the public, reports news agency Associated Press.
Komuro recently returned to Japan with a law degree from Fordham University in New York. The Guardian UK reports that his arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport was marked by the presence of "more than 150 reporters" and triggered "sniffy tabloid and social media commentary over everything from his body language to his choice of coiffure, a ponytail he had grown during his time in the US."
Mako and Komuro have confirmed plans to start a new life in the United States. Just like other princesses who marry commoners, Mako will have to leave the imperial family and has said she will forgo a USD742,000 payment traditionally given to women who give up their royal status.
The couple will not have an official engagement ceremony and will forgo a formal meeting with Emperor Naruhito, before the wedding. Instead, they will register their marriage at a government office before moving to New York, where Komuro has lined up a job with a leading law firm.