National

Kei Komuro's family financial trouble resolved? Depends who you ask

by Sakura Murakami

Staff Writer

Kei Komuro, Princess Mako’s longtime suitor whose prospective engagement to her is currently up in the air, claimed in a statement Tuesday that financial troubles blocking the way to his marriage to the princess had already been resolved.

In the statement, Komuro claimed that his mother’s ex-fiance agreed that Komuro’s family does not need to repay ¥4 million he spent on them before his engagement ended. But later in the day, the ex-fiance, whose name is being withheld, told the Asahi Shimbun that he still expects the sum to be returned, saying he had not intended to give the money to the family.

“The trouble hasn’t been resolved yet,” the man was quoted as saying by the Asahi.

He also told the paper that he used the money in question to financially support Komuro’s family, including university fees for Komuro. According to Komuro, the money was paid over the duration of the man’s engagement to Komuro’s mother, from 2010 to 2012.

Princess Mako is the eldest child of Prince Akishino, Crown Prince Naruhito’s younger brother. She and Komuro held a news conference in September 2017 to announce that they were set to be officially engaged, but their envisioned wedding was postponed from November 2018 to 2020 after a weekly magazine reported the financial trouble.

“I deeply apologize for causing anxiety over the relationship between my mother and her ex-fiance,” Komuro said in the statement sent to major media outlets, including The Japan Times.

In the one-page statement, he said that when the man broke off his engagement with Komuro’s mother in 2012, his mother offered to repay the roughly ¥4 million he spent while the two were engaged.

The former fiance “clearly stated that he did not expect the money to be repaid,” and Komuro and his mother considered the matter to be resolved, according to the statement.

However, the man sent a letter to Komuro’s mother in 2013, a year after their engagement ended, asking to be paid. After consulting an expert, Komuro’s mother met the man in person and rejected his request, leading him to say that he would also consult an expert and get back to them, Komuro alleged.

Since that meeting, Komuro said in his statement there were no developments on the money issue until a weekly magazine reported the story and other media outlets followed up in late 2017.

According to the Asahi, the ex-fiance also claimed that Komuro’s mother had suggested returning the money in monthly installments of ¥10,000 or so a month — a suggestion he turned down and asked that Komuro’s mother reconsider.

Prince Akishino said in a November news conference that Komuro and the princess “should provide a befitting response” to the issue if they still want to wed.

He also said that “it may be necessary to clear up and resolve this problem,” adding that “we cannot hold the official betrothal ceremony” unless the public can “celebrate” the engagement.

Tuesday’s statement marks Komuro’s first public statement on the financial issues since the story broke.

In the statement, Komuro expressed his gratitude to the former fiance for providing financial help over the years. He also said that he hopes the ex-fiance will come to share a mutual understanding with Komuro and his mother.

Komuro is currently enrolled in a three-year law program at Fordham University in New York in the hope of passing the bar examination in that state. He was working as a paralegal at a law firm in Tokyo prior to starting his studies in the United States in August 2018.