Rebel Princess Mako of Japan, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, and her commoner fiance are the Asian version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – leaving behind a royal life amid controversy to start over in the States – United.
But the story that grips Japan is a media soap opera that features Kei Komuro, the future husband in a Mako ponytail, as a shrewd con artist with a shrewd and arrogant mother.
If you believe Japan’s famous gossip “weeklies”, the princess runs away with a crook who will take her to New York in an uncertain future – almost penniless.
Those who support Mako, however, see his decision to marry Komuro and move to the United States as an opportunity to escape the suffocating, patriarchal world of his family and his chrysanthemum throne – of which, according to Imperial law, only men can inherit.
The Princess and Komuro, both 29, announced on Friday that they have finally set a wedding date for October 26, after a four-year engagement plagued by a scandal involving Komuro’s mother Kayo.
After the wedding, the couple plan to move to New York where Komuro works with the Midtown Lowenstein Sandler LLP law firm. He graduated from Fordham University Law School in Manhattan, where his classmates included John McEnroe’s daughter, Anna, in May 2021.
Komuro kept a low profile during his three years at school to avoid harassment by Japanese journalists in New York City, Brooklyn-based reporter Kasumi Abe told The Post.
“He was hiding all the time,” said Abe. “He lived in Fordham’s dorms for a while, but no one really saw him” – a move calculated due to “the harshness of the [Japanese] the media can be on him and Princess Mako.
While Friday’s wedding announcement should have been a happy event, there was a twist: on that same day, a family aide to Crown Prince Akishino, Mako’s father, held a press conference to say that the princess has developed complex post-traumatic stress disorder. mess because of the negative press about him and about Komuro.
The assistant was joined by a psychiatrist who said the princess’ symptoms included an inability to concentrate, lack of energy and irritability, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The heartbreaking coverage focused on her future mother-in-law, Kayo Komuro, a single mother who worked in a bakery until recently. Kayo managed to raise her son despite little money and a series of family tragedies, according to some reports.
Komuro’s father committed suicide when the boy was 10 years old; his paternal grandfather, who was reportedly devastated by the news, committed suicide a week later. Her grandmother reportedly committed suicide a year later, although The Post could not confirm this.
But a few years ago, an ex-boyfriend of Kayo took to the media and accused her of failing to repay a loan of around $ 40,000 that she may or may not have used to help pay off. part of Komuro’s elite education.
As a result, multiple sources told The Post that Kayo has been described as a money-hungry social climber who took money from men to send her son to international schools so he could catch a royal like Princess Mako.
Her son, in an effort to allay public concerns about his mother’s alleged debt, released a 28-page memo explaining it to the media in April. Komuro said the controversy was a dispute between his mother and her ex-fiance over whether the money was a gift or a loan – and promised to pay it back himself.
A Tokyo native, who now lives in Los Angeles and is familiar with the situation, said stepmother Kayo is “the hero in it all. She raised her son well and now he is the reason Princess Mako can have a chance to have a real life.
Maybe – at least for Western observers. But in Japan, where the Imperial family likes to claim it dates back over 2,600 years (historians say the current incarnation dates back to 1868), a princess marrying a perhaps shady commoner is shocking.
“The way some Japanese see it, Mako marries a guy [with] a single mom who met a guy who paid for her son’s education, ”Jennifer Matsui, an American writer who has lived in Tokyo for 30 years, told The Post. “As far as they are concerned, she has a black widow. vibe and a bit of hoochie mama stuff going on.
The princess reportedly forfeited the $ 1.35 million she would receive from the Imperial family if she married the nobility. The money is a compensation given to women who automatically lose their royal status when they marry.
Still, said Ken Ruoff, director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University, “I don’t know if this will make a difference in allaying the scandal.
Ruoff, who is the author of “The Imperial Household of Japan in the Postwar Era 1945-2019”, said the comparisons to Harry and Meghan are correct in that Princess Mako states “very clearly that she does not care about rituals and traditions of family and money.
The difference, he said, is that Prince Harry grew up in one of the richest families in the world. The Imperial Family, on the other hand, was stripped of most of its power and wealth right after WWII and is now largely a ceremonial symbol.
“I will eat my baseball cap if Princess Mako and her husband exploit their royal relationship the same way Prince Harry and Meghan Markle do,” Ruoff said. “Harry doesn’t know anything other than money and how to collect it and Markle had years of experience in show business. These two are much more secure.
Mako and Komuro met in 2012 at a restaurant when they were both students at Tokyo International Christian University.
They were originally due to marry in 2018 when Mako’s grandfather, Akihito, was still Emperor of Japan.
Komuro left the United States for Tokyo last week with his hair in a ponytail, which led to outraged stories in Japanese media that the hairstyle was inappropriate for a man marrying into the imperial family. . He is currently in two-week COVID travel quarantine at his home in Yokohama.
Princess Mako holds an MA in Museum and Art Gallery Studies from the University of Leicester in England. On Thursday, she left her post as a special researcher at the University of Tokyo museum, where she had worked since 2016, according to the Japan Times.
She is not the first Japanese royal woman to be described by palace doctors as having mental health issues. One of the strangest stories involving the Imperial Family in recent years has been the saga of Mako’s aunt, Empress Masako, the wife of Emperor Naruhito who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019.
Masako was a highly educated diplomat (Harvard and Oxford) when she met and later became engaged to Naruhito. Her father was also a diplomat and she grew up in Moscow and New York before the family returned to Japan.
“She was sold as the new modern and educated princess of Japan,” Matsui said. “Then something happened. On the one hand, Princess Diana talked too much and it scared everyone. [Then Masako] was never able to produce a male heir and was ashamed of it. So they put her back on the shelf and turned her into a doll. She was not seen for about 20 years and everyone learned that she suffered from a syndrome called “adjustment disorder”.
In reports published in 2019, around the time of his 56th birthday, palace doctors described Masako’s gradual return to public life as though referring to a fragile child.
The Empress had “been able to expand her activities and regain her confidence little by little by constantly seeking ways to preserve her health while taking care of her daughter, Princess Aiko. The warm welcome from the population also encouraged her, ”reads a statement from her doctors.
She is still described as being “recovering” from her mental health issues.
Japanese women in New York City, like Kasumi Abe, are hopeful that Mako gets over her alleged PTSD and escape scrutiny by the media in that country – and the palace – when she arrives in New York.
Mako would continue his work in the galleries of Manhattan.
“It was as if she was in a cage when living with the Imperial family,” Abe told the Post. “Now Mako will be one of the few women in the Japanese royal family to move overseas. But since she gave up the money, they probably won’t have much. So she really needs to find one. job !