TOKYO (AP) – A Japanese princess who renounced the throne to marry her mutual college boyfriend flew to New York on Sunday, as the couple pursue happiness as newlyweds and leave behind a nation that has criticized their history. ‘love.
The departure of Mako Komuro, the former Princess Mako, and Kei Komuro, both in their thirties, as they boarded their plane amidst a barrage of camera flashes at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, was broadcast live from major Japanese broadcasters.
Kei Komuro, a graduate of Fordham University Law School, works in a New York law firm. He has yet to pass his bar exam, another piece of news that local media have used to attack him, although it is normal for him to pass after multiple attempts.
“I love Mako,” she told reporters last month after filing their wedding in Tokyo. They did so without a wedding banquet or one of the other customary celebratory rituals.
“I want to live the only life I have with the person I love,” she said.
Although Japan appears modern in many ways, the values relating to family relationships and the status of women remain somewhat antiquated, rooted in feudal practices.
Such views were heightened in the public’s reaction to the wedding. Some Japanese feel they have a say in these matters because taxpayer money supports the imperial family system.
Other princesses married ordinary people and left the palace. But Mako is the first to have sparked such public outcry, including a frenzied backlash on social media and local tabloids.
Speculations ranged from whether the couple could afford to live in Manhattan to how much money Kei Komuro would make and whether the former princess would end up supporting her husband financially.
Mako is the granddaughter of Emperor Naruhito, who also married an ordinary person, Masako. Masako often suffered mentally in the cloistered and regulated life of the imperial family. The negative media coverage surrounding Mako’s wedding gave her what palace doctors described last month as a form of traumatic stress disorder.
Former Emperor Akihito, the father of the current emperor, was the first member of the imperial family to marry a commoner. His father was the emperor under whom Japan fought and lost in World War II.
The family does not hold any political power, but serves as a symbol of the nation, participates in ceremonial events and visits disaster areas, and remains relatively popular.
Only males inherit Chrysanthemum Thone. Mako is the daughter of the emperor’s younger brother and her 15-year-old brother is expected to become emperor.
Complicating the former princess’s wedding, announced in 2017, was a financial dispute involving Kei Komuro’s mother. The matter was resolved recently, according to the Kyodo news service.
When Kei Komuro returned from the United States in September, the couple reunited for the first time in three years. They met ten years ago while attending Tokyo International Christian University.
In announcing their wedding, the former princess, curator of a museum, made her choice clear.
“He’s someone I can’t do without,” he said. “Marriage is that necessary decision to continue living, remaining faithful to our hearts”.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama