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Japan’s Princess Mako. Photo: Reuters

Japan’s Princess Mako suffering PTSD over media coverage as October 26 date set for marriage to commoner Kei Komuro

  • Princess Mako’s marriage to her college sweetheart is set to take place on October 26, the Imperial Household Agency has announced
  • It also revealed that the princess is suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder due to media interest in the relationship, raising uncomfortable parallels to the experience of Princess Masako
Japan’s Princess Mako will marry her commoner boyfriend, Kei Komuro, on October 26, the Imperial Household Agency said on Friday, in an announcement that also took aim at the nation’s tabloid media over its frenzied coverage on the couple’s relationship over the last four years.

The agency confirmed widespread speculation that the wedding would be held before the end of the month and that Mako, the oldest niece of Emperor Naruhito, and Komuro would hold a press conference after registering the marriage.

It is expected that the couple will subsequently move to the United States, where Komuro is employed by a law firm in New York.

The agency used the announcement to state that the princess was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder due to the media interest in her relationship with Komuro, who has been embroiled in a long-running controversy over suggestions that his mother owes a former boyfriend 4 million yen (US$36,000) that was allegedly borrowed to pay the costs of his university education.

Frenzy over Princess Mako’s fiancé goes from fairy tale to ponytail

The princess’ experience has uncanny echoes of that of Princess Masako, an Oxford-educated commoner who married then Prince Naruhito in June 1993 and immediately found herself the centre of speculation about when she would produce a son and heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Eight years later, the announcement that the princess was pregnant was greeted with an outpouring of national joy – not least within the palace, where no male had been born since 1965.

Public delight at the birth of a healthy child was tempered by news that the new arrival was a girl and was therefore not eligible to carry the imperial line forward.

As a result of the pressure to produce a son, the princess suffered what the palace has described as an “adjustment disorder” and has rarely been seen in public since.

Then Crown Prince Naruhito (right) and his wife then Crown Princess Masako, pictured on April 30, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE

Following Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum throne, the couple have not had more children, although the emperor’s younger brother and Mako’s father, Akishino, has put off an existential crisis for the Japanese monarchy by producing a son, Prince Hisahito, who is now 15 and likely to assume the throne after his uncle.

Given the furore over the Komuro family’s finances, the princess has declined the traditional lump-sum payment of around 150 million yen (US$1.3 million) that is given to female members of the imperial family if they leave the household by marrying a commoner. Her decision has raised eyebrows as it is the first time the payment has been declined.

Princess Mako to decline US$1.35 million payment to wed boyfriend

Similarly, the couple is not expected to conduct the rites that are normally associated with a royal wedding, including the formal Nosai no Gi engagement ceremony and Choken no Gi, an official meeting with the emperor and empress ahead of the wedding.

Many Japanese say they have reservations about the marriage as a result of the negative coverage the Komuro family’s financial dispute brought on the imperial family, but they hope the wedding will be an end to the saga.


Japan’s Princess Mako to finally marry commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro

Japan’s Princess Mako to finally marry commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro

“There has been so much uncertainty for such a long time, it’s good that a date has finally been set and they can go ahead with the wedding,” said Fumio Takenaka, a 46-year-old housewife from Yokohama.

“If they are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together, then that is their choice as they are adults and no one has the right to interfere in that decision,” said Takenaka, who lives close to the apartment where Komuro’s mother lives in the eastern suburbs of the city. Komuro is also presently at the address as he completes his coronavirus quarantine period, with throngs of media positioned outside.

Takenaka’s sole reservation, however, concerns the throne.

“I hope that there is no attempt in the future to rejoin the imperial family if they have a son, who might have a rival claim to the throne as the son of the oldest child of Prince Akishino,” she said. “If they are truly renouncing any claims to the imperial family, then I wish them well and I think most Japanese people feel the same way.”