Japan's princess Mako gives up title as she weds her college sweetheart
By Elaine Lies and Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Princess Mako, the emperor's niece, married college mistress Kei Komuro on Tuesday, gave up her royal title, and said she was determined to build a happy life after a tumultuous engagement to her “irreplaceable” husband .
In an unusually frank joint press conference with her new husband, Mako said "false" news about Komuro had caused her great sadness, stress and fear.
At the beginning of the year she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a four-year engagement plagued by money scandals and intensive media monitoring.
"I am aware that there are different views on our marriage. I am very sorry for those (for) we caused trouble ..." said Mako, who from now on will be known as Mako Komuro, had to give in her royal title after marrying a commoner in accordance with Japanese law.
"For us, marriage is a necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts"
The two, 30 years old, were married the morning after an official from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which leads the family's life, filed papers with a local office registering their marriage.
The couple broke with tradition by foregoing the rituals and ceremonies that are common at royal weddings, including a reception, while Mako also declined the one-time payment of about $ 1.3 million typically paid to royal women who left the imperial family after marriage.
Japan initially hailed the couple's engagement announcement four years ago, but things turned sour shortly afterward when the tabloids reported a financial scandal involving Komuro's mother, which led the press to postpone him and the marriage. Komuro left Japan in 2018 to study law in New York, only to return in September.
During the press conference, Komuro said he loved Mako and pledged to support and protect her, an unusually open language for anyone associated with Japanese royalty.
"I want to spend the only life I have with who I love," he said.
Previously, television footage showed Mako, wearing a pastel-colored dress and pearls, saying goodbye to her parents and her 26-year-old sister Kako at the entrance to her house. Although everyone was wearing masks according to the Japanese coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen blinking quickly as if to ward off tears.
Although Mako practically bowed to her parents, her sister grabbed her shoulders and the two hugged for a long time.
Komuro, dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, bowed briefly to the camera crews who had gathered in front of his house when he left in the morning, but said nothing. His casual demeanor on returning to Japan, including a ponytail cut before marriage, had raged tabloids.
Just months after the two announced their engagement at a press conference where the smiles they exchanged won the hearts of the nation, tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro's mother and her former fiancé, with the man claiming mother and son had a debt of. not repaid about $ 35,000.
The scandal spread to mainstream media after the IHA failed to provide a clear explanation. In 2021, Komuro issued a 24-page statement on the matter and also said he would pay a severance payment.
Opinion polls show the Japanese are divided over marriage and there has been at least one protest.
Analysts say the problem is that the imperial family is idealized enough that they shouldn't touch the slightest bit of anger with things like money or politics.
The fact that Mako's father and younger brother Hisahito both succeed Emperor Naruhito, whose daughter is not entitled to inheritance, makes the scandal particularly damaging, said Hideya Kawanishi, associate professor of history at Nagoya University.
"While it is true that they will both be private individuals, Mako's younger brother will one day become emperor, so some people thought that someone with the problems he (Komuro) was having shouldn't marry them," added Kawanishi.
The two will live in New York after Mako applied for the first passport of their life.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
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Princess Mako of Akishino
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