Princess of Japan marries a commoner amid controversy

On Tuesday, October 21, 2021, Princess Mako of Japan finally married commoner Kei Komuro after having to long-overdue the ceremony for a few years now. The two of them were both students at the International Christian University in Tokyo, which was also where they first met in 2012. They became college sweethearts, and in 2017, they officially announced their engagement and had plans to have a wedding the following year.

However, two months later, a report emerged detailing a supposed money dispute between Kei’s mother and her former fiance. Both the mother and son allegedly owed a debt to the fiance which they failed to repay, this aroused possible speculations if Kei might financially struggle in the future and that the reason why he was marrying into the royal family was to avoid this. Kei tried to explain that they thought that it was simply just a gift from the fiance, but public approval of him took a hit. 

During the controversy, in 2018, Kei temporarily moved to New York to study law at Fordham University, but it didn’t stop critics of the couple. People on social media would often refer to Kei as a “gold digger” or a “grifter” and even said that the awards he won while working at a law firm in New York were fake. A spokesman from Fordham Law School would later confirm that he did legitimately earn all of those awards. Kei has also been criticized for his shaggy hair and food-trucking habit. Palace doctors said that the negative media got so bad, that Mako had developed a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is still somewhat currently recovering from it.

Kei would stay in New York until he would finally return to Japan in September of 2021, yet that didn’t come without another controversy. When he arrived, he was casually dressed and had a ponytail, which angered some saying how it was even more proof that he wasn’t fit to marry a princess. A weekly tabloid reported how a royal official had jeered at Kei for his choice of wearing a pinstriped suit while meeting his future-in-laws rather than a black or navy one. 

Kei would spend a month in quarantine before the couple would finally get married in a rather anticlimactic way. Instead of a big, fancy wedding like one you might see in the movies, it was simply a trip to a registry office in Tokyo. A formal news conference was held later that same Tuesday afternoon in which the two answered pre-registered questions from the press in the form of written responses as they were a bit afraid to respond in person. They also had to pay for the rent of the room in which the conference was held to steer clear of any accusations of tax money being put to waste.

Kei Komuro and Princess Mako during a news conference on Tuesday to announce their marriage. The groom proclaimed: “I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love.”
Princess Mako (right) and Kei Komuro at the conference on Tuesday (Photo provided by Nicolas Datiche)

“I acknowledge that there are various opinions about our marriage,” said Mako in a prepared remark, “I feel very sorry for the people to whom we gave trouble. I’m grateful for the people who have been quietly concerned about us, or those who continued supporting us without being confused by baseless information.” The couple answered five questions, one of which was concerning whether the ex-fiance’s money really was a gift, Kei defended himself and his mother in the matter, but it’s still unclear if it’s fully resolved or not.

Now that she’s married, Mako will be known as Mako Komuro and she had to revoke her status as a royal since she was marrying a commoner. Initially, Mako was offered 140 million yen ($1.2 million) as payment entitled for those who leave the royal family, but she declined it over criticism of the marriage. Mako has said that she is planning on moving to New York to join her husband who now works as a lawyer there. The princess does hold a master’s degree in art and museum gallery studies, so it shouldn’t be too hard for her to find a job in America’s art world. Although many criticized her decision to move away from Japan, many also wished the couple good luck in their new environment.

“I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love,” said Kei on Tuesday.


Princess Mako’s Royal Wedding in Japan Goes Off With Little Fanfare

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