Who is Princess Mako’s fiancé Kei Komuro and how did they meet?

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Princess Mako and Kei Komuro during a press conference to announce their engagement in September 2017 (AFP via Getty Images)
Princess Mako and Kei Komuro during a press conference to announce their engagement in September 2017 (AFP via Getty Images)

Japan’s Princess Mako, the niece of Emperor Naruhito, is set to marry her non-royal boyfriend on 26 October, a union that will see her giving up her royal status.

The princess and Kei Komuro had planned to marry in November 2018, but delayed their wedding due to a financial dispute reportedly involving Komuro’s family.

According to reports, the couple plan to move to the US after they are wed and have been dubbed Japan’s Harry and Meghan by local media.

Here is everything we know about Princess Mako’s fiancé:

Who is Kei Komuro?

Kei Komuro is a 30-year-old lawyer who has been engaged to Princess Mako since 2017. He recently returned to Japan with a law degree from Fordham University in New York.

Komuro took the New York state bar exam in July and has reportedly already started working at a local law firm.

How did Kei Komuro and Princess Mako meet?

The couple, who are the same age, met in 2012 as students at the International Christian University in Tokyo.

When they first announced their engagement in 2017, the princess and Komuro were portrayed as a perfect match. However, the atmosphere changed following the financial scandal and the couple found themselves in the eye of a negative media storm.

The princess was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the excessive media coverage over the years, reported Japanese news outlet Kyodo.

Why is Kei Komuro a controversial figure?

The Imperial Household Agency, which is in charge of state matters concerning the imperial family, said that the couple postponed their wedding after reports that Komuro’s mother owed ¥4m (£26,700) to her former fiancé.

She reportedly used some of the money to pay for Komuro’s education. The dispute sparked a media frenzy as tabloids, magazines and daytime TV shows criticised his family over the matter.

Komuro published a lengthy 28-page document in April in an attempt to resolve the dispute and “correct as much wrong information as possible”. He reportedly considered paying the former fiancé to settle the dispute, but a statement released by unnamed man on 10 October claimed no progress had been made.

His arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport to prepare for the wedding also triggered a wave of media attention because he wore his hair in a ponytail. Critics questioned why he had grown his hair, which had previously been short, so long, and whether the hairstyle was acceptable for a man about to marry a princess.

According to the Guardian, more than 150 reporters greeted Komuro at the airport. It was the first time he returned to Japan since leaving for New York in August 2018 to study.

How will they marry?

Princess Mako will become the third female member of the imperial family to marry a commoner. The last was her aunt, the former Princess Nori and younger sister of the emperor, who left the imperial household in 2005. Prior to that, Princess Suga, the fifth daughter of Emperor Showa and Empress Nagako, married a commoner in 1960.

Their union will not observe the usual rituals of the imperial family, which include an official engagement ceremony called “Nosai no Gi”, followed by the “Choken no Gi” ceremony, in which the couple officially meet and thank the emperor and empress.

The ceremonies are held at the Imperial Palace, but Princess Mako and Komuro will instead register their marriage without pomp and move to New York by the end of the year.

In an unprecedented move, the Princess also reportedly turned down a dowry from the government afforded to women from the imperial family who will be stripped of their noble status.

According to the Japan Times, the princess was said to be entitled to up to about ¥150m to help her make a fresh start in life as a commoner. The Japanese government has accepted her decision to decline the payment.

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