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From royalty to commoner, Japan’s Princess Mako to marry legal assistant

Once she marries, Mako will no longer be a princess and will become a commoner.
Princess Mako will leave the Japanese royal family once she marries. Shizuo Kambayashi / AP Photo
Princess Mako will leave the Japanese royal family once she marries. Shizuo Kambayashi / AP Photo

TOKYO // Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan’s emperor, will marry an ocean-loving legal assistant who can ski, play the violin and cook.

Once she marries, Mako will no longer be royalty and will become a commoner.

NHK television said the princess has already introduced Kei Komuro to her parents, and they approve. A formal announcement could come as soon as next month, Japanese media said.

Mr Komuro, appeared before media cameras on Wednesday outside the Tokyo law office where he works.

“Now is not the time for me to comment, but I want to speak at the right time,” he said, bowing repeatedly, wearing a suit and tie.

Mr Komuro, who according to media once served as a “Prince of the Sea” to promote tourism in a locality near Tokyo, did say he had a brief phone conversation with Mako on Tuesday.

The couple, both 25, graduated from International Christian University. They met at a restaurant in Tokyo’s Shibuya about five years ago at a party to talk about studying abroad. They have been seeing each other several times a month recently, NHK television said.

The marriage heated up a debate on Japan’s shrinking royal family.

Japan’s cabinet is expected to approve a bill on Friday to allow Emperor Akihito, 83, to step down, the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two centuries.

The bill will make no reference to the controversial topics of whether to revise a males-only succession law or to allow women to stay in the imperial family after marriage – a move conservatives fear would be a first step to letting females inherit the throne.

There are only four heirs to the throne – the emperor’s brother Crown Prince Naruhito, the emperor’s two sons and Prince Hisahito, his 10-year-old grandson.

“Under the present system, there is the risk that Hisahito will be the only one left in the imperial family,” Keio University professor Hidehiko Kasahara told an experts panel that studied the abdication issue.

Asked about the problem of the shortage in royals, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said: “There is no change in our view to proceed with consideration of steps to ensure stable imperial succession.”

* Agencies

Updated: May 17, 2017 04:00 AM