Japan’s Princess Mako has found love in a commoner and become the first member of Japan’s royal family to marry someone who is not part of it. She married her college sweetheart, Kei Komuro, on Tuesday, breaking with a centuries-old tradition that dictates princesses must wed royalty.
Japan’s imperial law forbids female members from marrying outside the royal family unless they lose their royal status by becoming engaged to a commoner. This controversial union delayed the marriage by 3 years, leading to the pair skipping any formal ceremonies.
While not everyone is thrilled about this happening, it shows a true testament to Mako wanting to live a life outside of royalty with a person she truly loves. And I’m sure as we continue to look under the hood, we’ll understand why she chose to take the path less traveled by.
Princess Mako’s departure means that Japan’s royal family is down to 17 members, which is 50 fewer people than the family had in 1945. The most worrisome part about it all is that this only leaves three heirs to the throne.
Unfortunately, Japan is still one of the few monarchies where women are not allowed to inherit the throne, even though they have had eight female rulers throughout its history.
There have been proposals to change the allow and allow women to take the throne, but they have been opposed by conservatives and positions of the Liberal Democratic Party.
While the emperor’s role is a symbolic one, Portland State’s Ken Ruoff notes, it’s a symbol that matters. “I think, unfortunately, it says a lot about the stickiness of patriarchy in Japan that the national symbol is still limited to males.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from the royal family has resulted in comparisons to “Megxit.” Ruoff says one similarity is that many royals who are not in line to the throne may increasingly see royalty as an unattractive deal.
“It just doesn’t seem worth it to some of the lesser royals,” he says, “to put up with the strict restraints on their lives, considering how little return they get for it.”
Many are upset with the royal family’s decision to skip any formal ceremony. “It’s really sad, isn’t it?” said Saki Fujimoto, one of Mako’s school friends.
Others say that royalty in modern-day Japan no longer has the same place in society. Prince Akishino has spoken about the need for “reform” when discussing issues like his niece’s marriage.
Japan’s Princess Mako and her fiancé Kei Komuro got married Tuesday in a low-key ceremony that was registered at a government office and they plan on moving to New York City.