Princess Mako’s engagement to be officially announced on July 8

Kyodo

The Imperial Household Agency said Monday it will officially announce the engagement of Princess Mako, the first grandchild of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, to a university classmate on July 8.

Princess Mako, 25, and her fiance-to-be, Kei Komuro, 25, will hold a news conference together the same day, the agency said.

The agency earlier planned to announce the engagement this fall but decided to move it up following consultations with Princess Mako’s parents, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, as well as the princess herself as, an agency official said, their intentions have been fully known in public following a spate of news reports.

Komuro was a classmate of the princess at International Christian University in Mitaka, Tokyo. He currently attends Hitotsubashi University’s graduate school and works as a paralegal at a law firm in Tokyo.

They met about five years ago through a mutual friend and soon started going out, before Komuro proposed about a year later, according to a source close to the matter.

The engagement will be the first among the four grandchildren of the Emperor and Empress.

Shinichiro Yamamoto, chief of the Imperial Household Agency, confirmed on May 16 that the princess and Komuro will become engaged but did not say when.

Komuro spoke to reporters May 17 but declined to answer most of the questions, saying he will talk more “when the time comes.”

Earlier this month Princess Mako visited Bhutan in her first overseas trip since the engagement plan was made public and met with the king and other members of Bhutan’s royal family to enhance mutual friendship.

She works as a researcher at an affiliate for the University Museum of the University of Tokyo.

The news of their impending engagement broke in mid-May, weeks before legislation aimed at enabling the 83-year-old Emperor to abdicate and pass the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito was enacted on June 9.

The news has highlighted the need to address the dwindling size of the Imperial family as princesses cannot become reigning empresses and, under current law, have to leave the family upon marriage to a commoner.

The engagement will reduce the number of Imperial family members to 18, including the Emperor himself.