Princess Mako will be the 8th female to leave the royal family under this law.
Following a law that is only held for females with royal lineage, Japanese Princess Mako has decided to give up her royal life in exchange for love. Princess Mako is set to marry Kei Komuro, a ‘commoner’ in Japan who she met in school at a meeting where a group was discussing study abroad plans.
Under Japanese law, any female family member must relinquish their royal title if they marry a person that isn’t of royal descent. The law does not extend to male family members, who can marry whomever they please and that spouse will become a royal themselves. The law is controversial, but has not yet been changed, just as the law that says only males can succeed the Chrysanthemum throne and become emperor.
Mako and Komuro met five years ago at a meeting when they were both students at International Christian University in Tokyo. Now 25 years old, Komuro is currently a graduate student that works at a law firm. The pair reportedly see each other several times per month and, although there hasn’t been a formal engagement announcement because of unforeseen delays, their wedding is supposed to be next year.
The princess has her Bachelor’s degree in Art and Cultural Heritage from International Christian University and her Master’s degree in Museum Studies. She currently works as a project researcher at the University of Tokyo’s museum, has her driver’s license, and is interested in humanitarian causes.
She is not the first in the family to leave the royal family under Emperor Akihito, as her aunt Sayako, Princess Nori, did the same in 2005 and Princess Takamado’s daughter, Princess Noriko, did so in 2014. When Mako leaves the Imperial family, her name will change from Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino to Mrs. Kei Komuro. Mako will be the 8th female family member to leave the family since the Imperial Household Law passed in 1947.
When Princess Nori, Mako’s aunt, left the family, she initially moved into a one bedroom apartment and was sent off with about one million dollars from the government. She had to learn to live as a commoner for the first time by getting her driver’s license and shopping at the supermarket, among other things. Mako has already been abroad and has her license, hopefully making this transition easier for her.
The law that is forcing the royal women in the family to do this has been under attack not just because of Mako’s upcoming exit, but because the nation has also been questioning whether to end the male-only succession that has been a tradition for 2,600 years. With Princess Mako as the eldest grandchild, she should have been the second heir after her own father, but the laws would not allow her to even be considered. Laws regarding the royal family are not constantly in flux, but there was one major bill that passed recently that allowed Emperor Akihito to abdicate, which hasn’t been done in over two centuries. After he mentioned last year that he was worried his age might get in the way of his ruling, the Japanese parliament swiftly passed the law so he could successfully exit as well.
It’s unclear when Mako and Komuro will announce their engagement, as they have been private about their relationship amidst all the rising questions, but hopefully it’s a successful marriage that inspires parliament to change their laws regarding the royal women.