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Japan’s Princess Mako to Forego Imperial Wedding Rituals Amid Public Doubt

The Princess has also expressed her wishes to decline a lump-sum usually given by the state to imperial family members upon their departure from the royal household.

The Sankei Shimbun

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Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, will marry her fiancé Kei Komuro, 29, a commoner, by the end of the year. However, due to public skepticism about the marriage, their wedding is expected to be held without the usual imperial ceremony and ritual — the first time since World War II that such will happen to a female member of the imperial family.

Princess Mako has also expressed her wishes to decline a lump-sum monetary offering usually given by the state to imperial family members upon their departure from the royal household, according to reports.

Princess Mako

Crown Prince Akishino, the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, commented on Princess Mako’s engagement in a press conference in November 2018, saying: “It would be difficult to hold the betrothal ceremony (Nosai no Gi) under circumstances in which many people are unconvinced [the marriage] is one to celebrate.” 

Thereafter, in a press conference in November 2020, the Crown Prince expressed the view that this situation had not significantly changed. 

A series of reports about financial troubles involving Komuro’s mother and the man who was her ex-fiancé are in the background. In response to the revelations, Komuro has released statements about his mother’s financial troubles at two different times. Although it has been reported that negotiations were initiated for the purpose of resolving the dispute, it has yet to be settled. 

In the meantime, the public remains unconvinced that this would be a marriage to celebrate.

Princess Mako and fiancé Kei Komuro

As a result, adjustments are in progress to accommodate the Princess by registering her marriage to Komuro without carrying out traditional royal engagement and wedding ceremonies such as the Nosai no Gi. It also means the marriage would proceed without the Choken no Gi, a traditional ceremony in which the Princess would normally pay an official visit to the Emperor and Empress to greet them before her marriage, according to a senior government official. 

The rituals concerning the marriage of imperial family members in modern times were stipulated by a set of imperial decrees dating to the Meiji era. The prescribed rites apply not only to the marriage of male imperial family members, but also to female members — such as Naishin-no, or direct granddaughters of an emperor, and Jo-ou, an emperor’s great-granddaughters — when they marry males outside of royal lineage. These ceremonies have continued without interruption, even after the war’s end, with adjustments to better suit the times, such as recognizing the separation of church and state.

When Ms. Sayako Kuroda married a commoner in 2005, as the younger sister of the Emperor and in the same status as Princess Mako is now, a series of ceremonies was held following the imperial traditions as they had been set out in the Meiji Era imperial decrees. The decrees themselves were officially abolished after the war, however, and as one high-ranking official of the Imperial Household Agency carefully put it, “Since currently there are no decrees mandating the ceremonies, it is possible to not hold certain rites, depending on the judgment of each family.”   

Princess Mako

There is no precedent for a female imperial family member declining the lump-sum monetary offering when leaving the royal family, which Princess Mako has hinted she will do. The amount of the payment is usually deliberated in a meeting of the Imperial Household Council, including the Prime Minister, and calculated according to the Imperial House Economy Law, with a maximum of ¥152.5 million JPY (~$1.4 million USD) for an imperial family member of Princess Mako’s status.   

A source related to the Imperial Household Agency said it “will consider options in response to Princess Mako’s decision by asking about her wishes directly, before deciding whether to make no payment, return the funds to the state, or donate to appropriate organizations, and so on.”

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(Read the original Sankei Shimbun article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun