The abrupt announcement that Princess Mako’s formal engagement and marriage to her fiance will be delayed has sparked speculation of reasons other than the official version.
The Imperial Household Agency’s said Tuesday that the princess and law firm worker Kei Komuro, both 26, will wait until 2020, citing “lack of preparation.”
She is not the first female member of the Imperial family to postpone marriage-related ceremonies, but most of her predecessors made their decisions amid extraordinary circumstances such as natural disasters.
Sayako Kuroda — the former Princess Nori, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko — was supposed to announce her engagement in November 2004. However, she postponed it to Dec. 18 after a powerful earthquake hit Niigata Prefecture in October, killing 40 people and forcing more than 100,000 others to be evacuated to shelters. After Princess Takamatsu, an aunt of the Emperor, passed away on Dec. 18, the announcement was further pushed back to Dec. 30, after her funeral.
Following last year’s torrential rains in Kyushu, the Imperial Household Agency also delayed the announcement of Princess Mako and Komuro’s engagement, which was originally scheduled for July 8, 2017, by around two months.
But the unprecedented delay of their wedding ceremony has left many people perturbed, as it has hindered preparation for the ceremony, which had been set to take place on Nov. 4 at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
The princess and Komuro had planned to become formally engaged on March 4 in a traditional court ceremony called Nosai no Gi.
The delay comes as news of Komuro’s financial troubles began appearing in tabloids. The weekly magazine Shukan Josei reported in December that Komuro’s mother had borrowed more than ¥4 million from her former partner and hadn’t returned the money yet. The report suggested she had used the money for living expenses and to cover her son’s tuition and expenses for studying abroad. The news also has made headlines this year in the weekly magazines Shukan Shincho and Shukan Bunshun.
The magazines also reported that Komuro’s father died when Komuro was an elementary school student, and that his mother relied on her then-boyfriend for financial support.
The articles said that after breaking off the relationship, the man issued a written document demanding that Komuro’s mother pay him back. The article said she refused, claiming she had received the money as a gift.
The tabloid reports have sparked concerns over the man the princess has chosen to marry, calling into question whether they will tie the knot.
Agency official Takaharu Kachi, however, said that the intention of the two to get married has not changed and that the decision to postpone the marriage was not related to the tabloid magazine reports on financial issues surrounding Komuro’s family.
Another agency official, Shinichiro Yamamoto, said, “It’s the couple’s decision whether to marry, and we are not in a position to comment on family troubles.”
However, a third agency official said the negative reports regarding Komuro have been destroying the festive mood, and “We need to wait until things calm down.”
Another senior agency official said the postponement should be seen in a positive light: “If there is any trouble, it should be resolved, and then the two should get married. Time can be used to further strengthen their bonds.”