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Japan’s Princess Mako of Akishino refuses £1m state wedding payment and plans US move


Kei Komuro has been accused of being motivated to marry Princess Mako for her money

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The niece of Emperor Naruhito will turn down a million-pound handout from the Japanese government when she marries her fiancé and moves with him to the United States in an unprecedented break with imperial tradition.


Princess Mako of Akishino will also become the first princess in modern times to forego formal Shinto betrothal ceremonies, according to reports in the Japanese media.

The low-key character of the planned wedding, which is expected to be held by the end of the year, is a tacit acknowledgment of the controversy around her fiancé, Kei Komuro.

Mako, the 29-year-old daughter of the emperor’s younger brother, Prince Fumihito, met Komuro, also 29, when they were students at Tokyo’s International Christian University.


Komuro, who has been studying law in the US, was formerly a “prince of the sea” in his hometown of Yokohama — a title bestowed on attractive local youths whose wholesome image is used to promote tourism in the coastal area.


But soon after the couple announced their engagement in 2017, a Japanese magazine reported on a financial dispute involving his mother that forced them to suspend their wedding plans.


Kayo Komuro, a widow, is in a protracted disagreement with a former partner over a ¥4 million (£26,000) payment he contributed to the family. Kayo Komuro regards it as having been given freely; the man claims that it was a loan to be repaid.


The insinuation that Komuro might be motivated by the desire for money rather than love for Mako has turned the obscure row into fodder for Japan’s tabloid magazines and put the couple under pressure to break off their engagement.


They appear determined to go ahead, however. “For us, a marriage is a necessary choice to live and honour our hearts,” Mako said last year. “We are irreplaceable for one another, and we lean on each other in happy times and unhappy ones.”


Mako’s father, Fumihito, has rather unenthusiastically given his approval “if that is what they really want”. He said last year: “From my point of view, I think they are not in a situation where many people are convinced and pleased [about their engagement] ... One thing I can say for certain is that even if you take some measures to address the issue [of the financial scandal], it is necessary for them to be visible.”


A substantial wedding payment is traditionally paid to princesses who lose their imperial status when they marry. In the normal run of things, Mako could have expected to embark on married life with about ¥150 million (£990,000) of taxpayer’s money, intended “to preserve the dignity of a person who was once a member of the imperial family”.


Komuro is awaiting the results of his US law exams, after which he intends to take up a job offer with a New York law firm. Although the princess has also studied at the universities of Edinburgh and Leicester, she would be the first former member of the Japanese imperial family to settle overseas.


According to today’s reports, based on leaks to the Japanese media, the couple will also skip two marriage rituals: the Nosai-no-Gi betrothal ceremony and the Choken-no-Gi, in which the departing bride offers thanks and a farewell to Naruhito and Empress Masako.

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