Missing Princess Mako: what does Japan’s royal family think of her move to New York? Kako, Aiko and father Fumihito support her, but Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida is still not ready for a female emperor

Japan’s former Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, left the Japanese royal family to move to the US. Photo: AP
After a controversy-filled wedding, Mrs Mako Komuro, formerly known as Princess Mako of Japan, is seemingly having the best time since moving to New York.

She interns at The Met, rents a luxury flat with husband Kei Komuro and runs errands freely. The 30-year-old former royal has even started sporting casual outfits.

Formerly known as Princess Mako, Mako Komuro moved to the US in 2021. Photo: @danish_royalista/Instagram

But what about Mako’s imperial family back in Japan? How have they been since she tied the knot with her university sweetheart, quit royal life and left for the US?

The first official family portrait without Mako Komuro

The Imperial Household Agency released new photos of the Japanese royal family – Crown Prince Fumihito, Crown Princess Kiko, Princess Kako and Prince Hisahito – in December 2021. Photo: @royalwatcherdiary/Instagram

To ring in the new year, Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko Akishino released a family picture with their two other children, Princess Kako and Prince Hisahito. The picture-perfect family – minus former Princess Mako – looked splendid in their formal attire at their official residence in Tokyo in December.

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Emperor Naruhito with his wife Empress Masako and daughter Princess Aiko in a family portrait. Photo: @royal__magazine/Instagram
Former Princess Mako’s uncle, the reigning Emperor Naruhito, also shared separate snaps with his wife Empress Masako, and daughter Princess Aiko, to mark the new year.

Princess Aiko praised Mako’s move

Princess Mako and Princess Aiko are cousins. Photos: Kyodo, EPA-EFE

During her first public press conference at the Imperial Palace in March, Princess Aiko had nothing but kind words for her older cousin, former Princess Mako.

“I will always remember with gratitude how she was so friendly and kind to me,” the 20-year-old royal told the press. “As her cousin, I pray that she will be happy for many years.”

Princess Aiko, the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, speaks at her first press conference at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, on March 17. Photo: Kyodo

Should Aiko marry, she will follow in Mako’s footsteps and renounce her titles; the Imperial House Law dictates that only men can ascend onto the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Crown Prince Fumihito on Mako’s marriage

Crown Prince Fumihito is the father of former Princess Mako. Photo: @royalwatcherdiary/Instagram
The newly released book Akishinomiya by veteran reporter Emori Keiji reinforces Crown Prince Fumihito’s support for his eldest daughter’s marriage.
Japan’s former Princess Mako with husband Kei Komuro. Photo: AFP

In the book, the 56-year-old royal also took a jab at the press for their “outrageous” media coverage of his daughter’s engagement.

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Princess Kako took over her sister’s duties

Former Princess Mako and Princess Kako grew up together. Photo: @royalwatcherdiary/Instagram

Princess Kako, who turned 27 in December, wishes her elder sister happiness too. Per Kyodo News, she has started “making efforts to engage in the activities that Ms Mako engaged in”.

Japan’s Princess Kako makes a speech at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Breast Cancer Society at a hotel in Yokohama near Tokyo, on June 29. Photo: Kyodo

As early as October 2021, Kako stepped up as the honorary president of the Japan Tennis Association. She also began working at the Japanese Federation of the Deaf as a part-time employee in May this year, Nippon reported.

Running out of royals

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko smile with their family members during a photo session for the New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, with Crown Prince Naruhito, his wife, Crown Princess Masako, their daughter, Princess Aiko, Prince Akishino, his wife, Princess Kiko, their daughters, Princess Mako and Princess Kako and their son, Prince Hisahito. Photo: Reuters

Princess Mako’s recent wedding once again highlighted the shrinking number of members of the Japanese imperial family and raised the question of whether to amend the law to allow female members to sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne.

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In Japan, only male heirs are eligible to be in line for the throne. Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, is currently first in line for the throne, followed by Mako’s 15-year-old brother, Prince Hisahito. The pressure will be on for the young royal to continue the bloodline.

Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino, centre, strolls with his son Prince Hisahito and his daughter Princess Kako at the garden of their Akasaka imperial property residence in Tokyo, in November 2021. Photo: AP
According to People, a government task force has begun finding solutions to reverse the monarchy’s dwindling eligibility. Meanwhile, polls show that the public broadly supports the idea of a woman taking the role of the emperor while conservatives – including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – disagree, France 24 reported.
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  • Now known as Mako Komuro after marrying university sweetheart Kei Komuro and renouncing her royal title, former Princess Mako is interning at The Met in New York
  • Her family support her, but pressure is on her younger brother Prince Hisahito to continue the royal bloodline, though some support women ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne too