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Japan's Princess Mako to wed commoner this month despite dispute

The couple are expected to start a new life together in New York later this year.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and her fiancee Kei Komuro, a university friend of Princess Mako, smile during a press conference to announce their engagement at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo
The couple initially captivated the public with their smiles at each other in a news conference to announce the engagement.Shizuo Kambayashi / Pool via Reuters file

TOKYO — Japanese Princess Mako and her fiancé are finally tying the knot later this month, but no wedding ceremonies are planned.

Their marriage is not fully supported by the public because of a financial dispute involving her future mother-in-law, the palace announced Friday.

The controversy involving Mako fiancé Kei Komuro’s mother is an embarrassment for the imperial family and led to public rebuke that delayed their marriage for more than three years.

Komuro, 29, returned to Japan last week from New York, where he was studying to become a lawyer. His hair, tied in a ponytail, was considered a bold statement for someone marrying a princess in the tradition-bound family and only added to the criticism.

Komuro flew into Tokyo Monday for his first visit in three years, sporting a ponytail that set off widespread tabloid and television discussion about whether he was being disrespectful.Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP via Getty Images

The couple will register their marriage on Oct. 26 and will have a news conference together, the Imperial Household Agency said. They are expected to start a new life together in New York later this year.

There will be no wedding banquet and other rituals for the couple “because their marriage is not celebrated by many people,” the agency said.

Mako has also declined the 150 million yen ($1.35 million) she is entitled for leaving the imperial family, palace officials said. Mako would be the first female imperial family member since World War II to not receive the payment when marrying a commoner.

She was recently diagnosed with a mental condition that palace doctors described as a form of traumatic stress disorder, according to the agency.

Mako, who turns 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 their intent to marry the following year, but the financial dispute surfaced two months later and the wedding was suspended.

The dispute involved whether the money his mother received from her former fiancé and spent on Komuro’s education in Japan was a loan or a gift.

Komuro left for New York in 2018 to study law, and this is the first time he has returned since then.

The Imperial House Law allows only male succession.

Female members of the royal family must renounce their royal status when they marry a commoner — a practice that has resulted in a decline in the size of the royal family and a shortage of successors to the throne.