Japan’s rebellious Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, and her commoner fiancé are the Asian version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — forsaking a royal life amid controversy to start out anew within the US.
However the story gripping Japan is a media cleaning soap opera that’s solid Kei Komuro, Mako’s ponytail-wearing husband-to-be, as a shrewd hustler with a savvy, pushy mom.
In case you imagine Japan’s infamous gossip “weeklies,” the princess is eloping with a con man who can be whisking her off to an unsure future in New York Metropolis — near penniless.
Those that assist Mako, nevertheless, see her resolution to marry Komuro and transfer to the US as a possibility to flee the stuffy, patriarchal world of her household and its Chrysanthemum Throne — which, in keeping with imperial legislation, solely males can inherit.
The princess and Komuro, each 29, introduced Friday that they’ve lastly set a marriage date, Oct. 26, after a four-year engagement dogged by a scandal involving Komuro’s mom, Kayo.
After the marriage, the couple plans to maneuver to New York Metropolis the place Komuro has a job with the Midtown legislation agency Lowenstein Sandler LLP. He graduated from Fordham College Legislation College in Manhattan, the place his classmates included John McEnroe’s daughter, Anna, in Might 2021.
Komuro stored a low profile throughout his three years on the college to keep away from being hounded by Japanese reporters in NYC, the Brooklyn-based journalist Kasumi Abe informed The Publish.
“He was in hiding the whole time,” Abe mentioned. “He lived in the Fordham dorms for awhile but nobody really saw him” — a calculated transfer due to “how tough the [Japanese] media can be on him and Princess Mako.”
Whereas Friday’s marriage ceremony announcement ought to have been a contented occasion, there was a plot twist: That very same day, an aide to the household of Crown Prince Akishino, Mako’s father, held a press convention to say that the princess has developed complicated post-traumatic stress dysfunction due to the unfavourable press about her and Komuro.
The aide was joined by a psychiatrist who mentioned the princess’s signs included an lack of ability to pay attention, lack of power and irritability, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The upsetting protection has centered on her future mother-in-law, Kayo Komuro, a single mother who labored in a bakery till not too long ago. Kayo managed to efficiently elevate her son regardless of little cash and a string of household tragedies, in keeping with some experiences.
Komuro’s father died by suicide when the boy was 10; his paternal grandfather, reportedly devastated by the information, killed himself every week later. His grandmother reportedly dedicated suicide a 12 months after that, though The Publish couldn’t affirm that.
However a number of years in the past, an ex-boyfriend of Kayo’s went to the media and accused her of not repaying a roughly $40,000 mortgage from him that she could or could not have used to assist pay for a few of Komuro’s elite schooling.
In consequence, a number of sources informed The Publish, Kayo has been portrayed as a money-grubbing social climber who took money from males to place her son via worldwide colleges so he may snag a royal like Princess Mako.
Her son, in an effort to quell public concern over his mom’s alleged debt, released a 28-page memo explaining it to media in April. Komuro mentioned the controversy was a dispute between his mother and her ex-fiancé over whether or not the cash was a present or a mortgage — and vowed to pay it again himself.
One Tokyo native, who now lives in Los Angeles and is accustomed to the scenario, mentioned that mother-in-law Kayo is “the heroine in this. She brought up her son well and now he’s the reason Princess Mako may have a chance at a real life.”
Perhaps — not less than to Western observers. However in Japan, the place the Imperial Household likes to say that it dates again greater than 2,600 years (historians say the present incarnation happened in 1868), a princess marrying a probably shady commoner is stunning.
“The way some Japanese see it, Mako is marrying a guy [with] a single mother who hooked up with some guy who paid for her son’s education,” Jennifer Matsui, an American author who’s lived in Tokyo for 30 years, informed The Publish.. “As far as they’re concerned, she’s got a black widow vibe and a bit of a hoochie mama thing going on.”
The princess reportedly renounced the $1.35 million she would obtain from the Imperial Household if she married the Aristocracy. The cash is compensation given to females who routinely lose their royal standing once they marry.
Nonetheless, mentioned Ken Ruoff, director of the Heart for Japanese Research at Portland State College: “I’m not sure if it will make any difference in quieting down the scandal.”
Ruoff, who’s the creator of “Japan’s Imperial House in the Postwar Era 1945-2019,” mentioned the comparisons to Harry and Meghan are right in that Princess Mako is making “it very clear that she doesn’t care about the rituals and traditions of the family and the money.”
The distinction, he mentioned, is that Prince Harry grew up in one of many richest households on the planet. The Imperial Household, in distinction, was stripped of most of its energy and wealth simply after World Warfare II and is now largely a ceremonial image.
“I’ll eat my baseball cap if Princess Mako and her husband exploit their royal connections in the tawdry way Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did,” Ruoff mentioned. “Harry knows nothing but money and how to raise it and Markle had years of experience in show business. These two are much more sheltered.”
Mako and Komuro met in 2012 at a restaurant once they had been each college students on the Worldwide Christian College in Tokyo.
They had been initially imagined to get married in 2018 when Mako’s grandfather, Akihito, was nonetheless emperor of Japan.
Komuro left the US for Tokyo final week together with his hair in a ponytail, leading to outraged tales in Japanese media about how inappropriate the coiffure was for a person marrying into the Imperial Household. He’s at the moment in a two-week COVID journey quarantine at residence in Yokohama.
Princess Mako has a grasp’s diploma in artwork museum and gallery research from the College of Leicester in England. On Thursday, she stop her job as a particular researcher on the College of Tokyo’s museum, the place she had labored since 2016, in keeping with Japan Times.
She isn’t the primary royal Japanese feminine to be described by palace docs as having psychological well being points. One of many oddest tales involving the Imperial Household lately has been the saga of Mako’s aunt, Empress Masako, the spouse of Emperor Naruhito who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019.
Masako was a extremely educated (Harvard and Oxford) diplomat when she met and later grew to become engaged to Naruhito. Her father was additionally a diplomat and he or she grew up in Moscow and New York earlier than the household returned to Japan.
“She was sold as Japan’s new modern, educated princess,” Matsui mentioned. “Then something happened. For one thing, Princess Diana out there talking too much and that scared everyone. [Then Masako] never was able to produce a male heir and got shamed for it. So they put her back on the shelf and turned her into a doll. She wasn’t seen for like 20 years and everyone was told she had a syndrome called ‘adjustment disorder.’”
In news reports printed in 2019, across the time of her 56th birthday, palace docs described Masako’s gradual return to public life as in the event that they had been referencing a fragile baby.
The Empress had “been able to expand her activities and regained confidence little by little as she constantly sought ways to maintain her health while taking care of her daughter, Princess Aiko. Warm welcome from the people also gave her encouragement,” learn one assertion from her docs.
She continues to be described as being in “recovery” from her psychological well being points.
Japanese girls in New York, like Kasumi Abe, hope Mako will recover from her alleged PTSD and escape the scrutiny of that nation’s media — and the palace — when she arrives in New York.
Mako is reportedly pursuing work in Manhattan galleries.
“It was like she was in a cage when she was living as part of the Imperial Family,” Abe informed The Publish. “Now Mako will be one of the few women from the Japanese royal family to move overseas. But since she has given up the money, they probably won’t have a lot. So she really needs to get a job!”