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How Mako from Japan, 30, has turned his back on tradition

Weddings should be a day of untainted love and joy.

But not for Japan’s princess Mako, who has relinquished her royal title after going against tradition to marry her college sweetheart.

The problem has arisen because her long-term boyfriend Kei Komuro, 30, a lawyer at a New York law firm whom she met nearly a decade ago at Tokyo International Christian University, is a commoner.

By marrying him today, Mako, 30, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, has chosen love over her title, duties as royal and official place within the family.

Japan’s strict probate laws prohibit women from ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne and force them to give up their titles if they marry commoners.

The wedding has sent shockwaves through Japan – a country where the royal family is under immense pressure to conform to traditions and meet exacting standards of behavior, with every move scrutinized.

It marks a dramatic, if slow-burning departure for the Princess, a Leicester University graduate who worked at Coventry Museums, who in her early years was eager to live up to expectations.

Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of Emperor Naruhito, has chosen love over her duties as a royal, and a place within the family.  Pictured, Mako, right, with her parents and younger sister Kako at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo in 1999

Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of Emperor Naruhito, has chosen love over her duties as a royal, and a place within the family. Pictured, Mako, right, with her parents and younger sister Kako at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo in 1999

Notable: Princess Mako of Japan, right, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo's Imperial Palace to celebrate her uncle's formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019

Notable: Princess Mako of Japan, right, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo's Imperial Palace to celebrate her uncle's formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019

Notable: Princess Mako of Japan, right, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to celebrate her uncle’s formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019

Weddings should be a day of love and joy.  But not so for Japanese princess Mako, who was formally removed from the royal family when she married her college sweetheart.  Pictured, the newlyweds at a press conference to announce their restrained civil service in Tokyo

Weddings should be a day of love and joy.  But not so for Japanese princess Mako, who was formally removed from the royal family when she married her college sweetheart.  Pictured, the newlyweds at a press conference to announce their restrained civil service in Tokyo

Weddings should be a day of love and joy. But not so for Japanese princess Mako, who was formally removed from the royal family when she married her college sweetheart. Pictured, the newlyweds at a press conference to announce their restrained civil service in Tokyo

Born on October 23, 1991, Mako is the eldest child of Fumihito, Prince Akishino, and his wife, Princess Kiko, who were college friends like Mako and Komuro.

The birth of the first granddaughter of the then Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko was greeted by intense media coverage, despite the fact that she could not inherit the throne by law.

For example, the proud father told reporters after seeing his newborn daughter: ‘She’s cute. She looks like me.’

Mako was followed three years later by her sister Kako, and the two were joined in 2006 by their brother Hisahito, the first man born into the Imperial family since 1965.

The Imperial Household Law of 1947 states that only men in the male line of the family can ascend the throne. It means that while Emperor Naruhito has a daughter Aiko, 19, it is his brother the Crown Prince Fumihito who takes precedence.

Likewise, the Crown Prince’s daughters, Mako and Kako, 26, will be passed over in favor of his son Prince Hisahito, 15.

Princess Mako, in blue, in 2005 with members of the royal family, including her parents (back row), uncle, center, who is now the emperor, and younger sister, in yellow

Princess Mako, in blue, in 2005 with members of the royal family, including her parents (back row), uncle, center, who is now the emperor, and younger sister, in yellow

Princess Mako, in blue, in 2005 with members of the royal family, including her parents (back row), uncle, center, who is now the emperor, and younger sister, in yellow

There is only one other man – the Emperor’s 85-year-old uncle Prince Hitachi – who is eligible for the throne under current rules.

If young Prince Hisahito does not have a male child, the line of succession will be broken – sparking some debate about changing the rules, with polls showing the Japanese public broadly supports women being allowed to rule.

While traditionalists are vehemently against the idea, Japan has had as many as eight empresses in the past.

The last, Gosakuramachi, sat on the throne about 250 years ago.

Although Mako initially followed the royal tradition and attended the elite Gakushuin school until the end of high school, she broke the habit by not continuing at the institution for her university studies, but instead attending Tokyo’s International Christian University. to go.

End of the line: Princess Mako is expected to lose her royal titles when she marries Kei Komuro, whom she met while studying at International Christian University (ICU) and will marry next year after she postponed their 2018 wedding.  The picture shows the princess in 2011

End of the line: Princess Mako is expected to lose her royal titles when she marries Kei Komuro, whom she met while studying at International Christian University (ICU) and will marry next year after she postponed their 2018 wedding.  The picture shows the princess in 2011

End of the line: Princess Mako is expected to lose her royal titles when she marries Kei Komuro, whom she met while studying at International Christian University (ICU) and will marry next year after she postponed their 2018 wedding. The picture shows the princess in 2011

Japanese Princess Mako stands on a bulletproof balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to greet the well-wishers who flock to the palace complex to celebrate Emperor Akihito's 78th birthday in 2011.

Japanese Princess Mako stands on a bulletproof balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to greet the well-wishers who flock to the palace complex to celebrate Emperor Akihito's 78th birthday in 2011.

Japanese Princess Mako stands on a bulletproof balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to greet the well-wishers who flock to the palace complex to celebrate Emperor Akihito’s 78th birthday in 2011.

Here she met Komuro, at a gathering of students who planned to go abroad in 2012. Raised by a single mother, Komuro had a much less privileged start in life and spent some time working for tourism promotion near Tokyo to earn money.

Mako spent a year at the University of Edinburgh and reportedly studied in Dublin for a period.

She graduated in 2014 with a degree in Arts and Cultural Studies and later obtained a Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Studies from the University of Leicester.

Mako and Komuro became secretly engaged before announcing the news in September 2017. Shortly after, it was announced that the couple would marry in November 2018.

Trouble broke out a few months after he and Mako announced their engagement in 2017, when tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiancé, with the man claiming that mother and son had failed to repay a debt of about $35,000.

Princess Mako (in blue) has taken a more active role in the family in the months since her uncle was named emperor in May and her father heir to the throne.  Pictured (lr) Princess Kako, 24, and Princess Mako with parents Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito

Princess Mako (in blue) has taken a more active role in the family in the months since her uncle was named emperor in May and her father heir to the throne.  Pictured (lr) Princess Kako, 24, and Princess Mako with parents Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito

Princess Mako (in blue) has taken a more active role in the family in the months since her uncle was named emperor in May and her father heir to the throne. Pictured (lr) Princess Kako, 24, and Princess Mako with parents Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito

According to some reports, the fiancé paid for part of Komuro’s education.

Komuro later said the money had been a gift, not a loan. But in 2021, he filed a 24-page explanation and later said he would pay a settlement.

In September 2018, he left to study at Fordham University in New York and did not return until September of this year, after graduating from law school and starting work at a law firm in New York. He took the bar exam in July, the results of which should be in December.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, third from left, and Empress Masako, third from right, pose with their relatives for a family photo, including Mako (standing, far left)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, third from left, and Empress Masako, third from right, pose with their relatives for a family photo, including Mako (standing, far left)

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, third from left, and Empress Masako, third from right, pose with their relatives for a family photo, including Mako (standing, far left)

Meanwhile, Mako began to take on a more high-profile role within the royal family. In 2019, she wore a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to mark her uncle’s formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

She also took on official obligations previously believed to have fallen to her parents, including an official visit to South America in July of that year.

But now she will put it all behind her as she joins Komuro to build a new life together in New York.

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