Asia Japan’s Princess Mako marries commoner, loses royal status

Japan’s Princess Mako marries commoner, loses royal status

Japanese Princess Mako married a commoner and lost her royal status Tuesday in a union that has split public opinion after a three-year delay caused by a financial dispute involving her new mother-in-law.

The marriage document for Mako and Kei Komuro was submitted by a palace official Tuesday morning and is now official, the Imperial Household Agency said.

No longer a royal, Mako has now taken the surname of her husband and become Mako Komuro — the first time she has had a family name. In Japan’s imperial family, only male members are given household names, while female members only have titles and must leave if they marry commoners.

This example of prewar-era paternalism, still kept alive by the imperial family, is also reflected in Japanese gender policies that many criticize as outdated, including a law that requires married couples to use only one surname, almost always the husband’s.

The newlyweds will make statements at a news conference in the afternoon but will only provide written answers to questions because Mako showed fear and unease over what would be asked, the agency said.

Mako is recovering from what palace doctors described earlier this month as a form of traumatic stress disorder that she developed after seeing negative media coverage about their marriage, especially attacks on Komuro.

There will be no wedding banquet and there have been no other marriage rituals for the couple. Their marriage is not celebrated by many people, the agency has said.

Mako, who turned 30 three days before the wedding, is a niece of Emperor Naruhito. She and Komuro were classmates at Tokyo’s International Christian University when they announced in September 2017 that they intended to marry the following year, but the financial dispute surfaced two months later and the wedding was suspended.