After I decided to marry a man from the common people
Japanese Princess Mako refuses £1m to help her marry her fiancé
The niece of Emperor Naruhito, Princess Mako Akishino, has refused a £1 million grant from the Japanese government to help her marry her fiancé, whom she chose from among the common people, and move with him to the United States in an unprecedented violation of Japanese imperial tradition.
Princess Mako Akishino will also become the first modern-day princess to abandon official Shinto ceremonies of engagement and marriage, according to Japanese media reports.
These low-key celebrations, which will take place during the planned wedding, expected to take place by the end of the year, are a tacit acknowledgment of the controversy surrounding her commoner fiancé, Kei Komuro, whom the Imperial Palace has unsuccessfully tried to keep away from her.
Mako, 29-year-old daughter of Emperor Fumihito's younger brother of Japan, and 29-year-old Komuro, and they met while they were students at Tokyo International Christian University.
Komuro, who previously studied law in the United States, earned the title of "Sea Prince" in his hometown of Yokohama - a title given to attractive local youths whose images are used to promote tourism in the coastal region.
Shortly after announcing their engagement in 2017, a Japanese magazine reported a financial dispute involving his mother, forcing them to put their wedding plans on hold.
Kayo Komuro, a widow, had a long-running dispute with a former partner over the 4 million yen (£26,000) she had contributed to the family's livelihood.
Kayo Komuro considered this amount a grant.
However, the owner of the money claims that it was a repayable loan.
Japanese newspapers have hinted that Komuro may be motivated by a desire for money rather than his love for Mako, and this mysterious feud has graced the covers of Japanese tabloids, putting the two at risk of breaking off their engagement.
But they seem determined to move forward.
“For us, marriage is a necessary choice to live together and honor our hearts,” Mako said last year.
Fumihito reluctantly agreed, "If that's what they really want, I don't mind."
"From my point of view, I think they are not in a position where a lot of people are satisfied and happy," he said last year. "One thing I can say for sure is that even if some action is taken to address the issue of the financial scandal, it is still visible." .
Princesses who lose their imperial status when they marry a commoner are usually paid a large wedding sum.
In the normal course of things, Mako would have enjoyed some 150 million yen (£990,000) in taxpayers' money in her married life, "with the aim of "preserving the dignity of the one who was once a member of the imperial family".
The wedding was postponed in 2018, the official argument was the lack of time to prepare the traditional ceremonial ceremonies at the imperial court.
But the decision was announced at a time when Komuro's mother was facing off with her ex-fiancé in a financial dispute that caused a sensation in Japanese newspapers.
The latter accuses Mrs. Komuro of not returning him more than four million yen (about 30,000 euros), a sum she borrowed to fund part of her son's studies.
This unresolved dispute sparked a scandal in Japan, where members of the imperial family are expected to behave flawlessly.
Komuro is awaiting the results of his law exams in the United States, after which he intends to accept a job offer at a New York law firm.
Although the princess has also studied at the universities of Edinburgh and Leicester, she will be the first former member of the Japanese imperial family to settle abroad.
According to Japanese media leaks, the couple will also skip the traditional imperial wedding rites of betrothal in which the departing bride from the Imperial Palace offers thanks and farewell to Naruhito and Empress Masako.
Prince Fumihito said last year that he personally supported his daughter's marriage, but considered that she should first have the support of public opinion in the country.
Mako's younger brother Prince Hisahito, 14, is currently the only heir to the throne in Japan after his father, as the imperial court only recognizes patrilineal lineage and women are not entitled to inherit the throne.
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