TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese Imperial Household Agency (IHA) is expected to officially announce Princess Mako’s marriage to a former classmate as early as Friday, media reported, after years of scrutiny that have cast its engagement in an unflattering light.
Details have yet to be confirmed, but the couple will withdraw from a one-time payment of $ 1 million the princess is entitled to by relinquishing her royal status, broadcaster NHK has said.
The engagement of the 29-year-old granddaughter of then Emperor Akihito and former classmate Kei Komuro was announced in 2017. But the wedding was postponed after reports of a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance.
The couple will register their marriage at a local government office, with the Imperial family’s records adjusted to reflect Princess Mako having left them, the report added.
The IHA, which has made no official announcement on the marriage or the one-off payment, made no comment, a spokesperson for the agency told Reuters on Thursday.
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The fiance, who is enrolled in a New York law school, visited Tokyo on Monday for the first time in three years, sporting long hair tied back in a ponytail, a style that drew comments on the shows midday television and in the tabloids.
The controversy over the marriage plan began when a tabloid reported allegations by a former fiance of Komuro’s mother that the mother and son had failed to repay a debt of around $ 35,000.
Komuro said his mother’s ex-fiancé provided the money as a gift, not a loan.
The IHA has postponed several engagement ceremonies in the wake of the scandal and has not planned to hold them since.
The issue gained momentum after tabloid coverage became a national concern that spread to broadsheet newspapers, said Akinori Takamori, an expert on the Imperial Family and professor at Kokugakuin University in the capital city.
It got even bigger when members of the Imperial Family felt compelled to speak up and gain public understanding.
“Even the tiniest details – like his hair – have become fodder for daytime television,” Takamori said, adding that he felt the extent of media coverage of Komuro’s family life could even amount to. “a violation of human rights”.
A recent poll by the daily Mainichi showed that 38% of those polled were in favor of marriage, while 35% were against it and 26% expressed no interest.
“It is not desirable that the people are divided on this issue when the imperial family should be a symbol of unity for the country,” Takamori said.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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