For Princess Mako of Japan, Official Wedding ceremony Might Be Distant Prospect

When Princess Mako of Japan got engaged to her college boyfriend in 2017, many Japanese were hoping for a fairytale wedding for the couple.

But three years later, the prospects for the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and her friend Kei Komuro, a simple and aspiring lawyer, were happy and complicated.

In the remarks released on Monday, Crown Prince Akishino said he had approved the wedding. But he also said that there was apparently resistance to the union in Japan, making it difficult to proceed with an official ceremony. The Crown Prince has previously said that this can only happen if the Japanese public approves the marriage.

“The constitution says that marriage should only be based on mutual consent of both sexes,” said Crown Prince Akishino in a transcript of remarks made on November 20 on the occasion of his 55th birthday. “If that’s what you really want, then I think I have to respect that as a parent,” he said.

But he added, “I think it’s not that a lot of people agree and be happy about it.”

The couple, both 29, were originally scheduled to get married in 2018, but the date was postponed after Japanese tabloids struggled with money in Mr. Komuro’s family. His mother was involved in a $ 36,000 dispute with a former fiancé, some of which was reportedly used for Mr. Komuro’s school.

The reports raise questions about Mr. Komuro’s intentions, with some critics accusing him of being a gold digger. The touch of scandal turned out to be too much for many Japanese, not to mention the sensitivity of the imperial family, who have no taste for the incessant dramas that have plagued kings in other countries.

The drama is reminiscent of another couple who appear to be at odds with the royal establishment in their own country. Prince Harry of Great Britain and his wife Meghan announced in January that they would no longer be full-time members of the royal family.

At a press conference in 2018, Crown Prince Akishino said he “respected” his daughter’s wish to marry Mr. Komuro, but that an official ceremony would not take place if the public did not approve.

Undeterred, the couple said they would tie the knot in 2020.

Meanwhile, Mr. Komuro was attending Fordham Law School in New York for a Masters Degree and adding pressure on the couple to be long-distance relationships.

Earlier this month, Princess Mako released a statement that the wedding would not take place this year, although she and Mr. Komuro remained committed to each other. She didn’t say when she expected it.

In his remarks, the Crown Prince suggested that Mr Komuro had not taken enough steps to allay concerns about his mother’s affairs and that the marriage should not continue until he had publicly shown his commitment to solving the problem.

The ups and downs of the future couple are reminiscent of the fragility of the world’s oldest monarchy.

Japanese law prohibits women or their children from inheriting the throne. After the abdication of Emperor Akihito last year and the rise of his son Naruhito to the chrysanthemum throne, there are only two potential heirs left: the Crown Prince and his son.

If Princess Mako marries Mr. Komuro, she will be expelled from the imperial family and become a citizen herself, further shrinking the already tiny royal clan.

Makiko Inoue contributed to the coverage.

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