• Kyodo


Ahead of their marriage later this month, Princess Mako’s boyfriend, Kei Komuro, met with her parents Monday during a visit to their imperial residence within the Akasaka Estate, as the couple reunited for the first time in more than three years.

Komuro, 30, is believed to have explained to Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko his response to an unresolved financial dispute involving his mother that led to his marriage to the princess being postponed for nearly three years.

The princess’s university sweetheart came back to Japan last month from the United States, where he has been working at a law firm since graduating from law school. He is believed to have told Princess Mako’s parents about his life in New York, where the two are planning to settle after their marriage on Oct. 26.

Earlier in the morning, Komuro left his mother’s house near Tokyo in a suit and a necktie and bowed to the media waiting outside. A ponytail he had sported after his return from the United States, creating a media frenzy, had been cut off.

Around 60 media personnel waited for Komuro’s arrival at the entrance of the Akasaka Estate, while at least one helicopter belonging to a news organization was seen flying above to record the situation.

Some passersby also stopped to catch a glimpse of Komuro, taking pictures using their smartphones.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno expressed the government’s congratulations on the couple’s upcoming marriage, saying at a news conference, “We extend our sincere wishes for many more years of happiness and greater prosperity to the imperial family.”

The trouble between his mother and her former fiance over ¥4 million ($35,000), including money spent on Komuro’s education, has stirred public controversy and dampened the celebratory mood around the couple’s impending marriage in Japan.

Komuro returned to Japan in late September for the first time since leaving for New York in August 2018 to study at Fordham University’s law school. He graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in May this year.

An Imperial Household Agency official will submit legal papers to register the couple’s marriage on Oct. 26 on behalf of Princess Mako, 29, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, and Komuro. The two are scheduled to hold a joint news conference later that day at a Tokyo hotel.

The princess, who will lose her royal status after marrying her commoner boyfriend, will move out of the Akasaka Estate on the same day, after the marriage is registered.

Amid public unease over the marriage due to the money dispute on the Komuro family side, the traditional ceremonies associated with royal family members’ weddings such as Choken no Gi, an official meeting with the emperor and the empress prior to marriage, will not be held.

While female imperial family members traditionally receive a lump-sum payment of up to around ¥150 million in taxpayers’ money upon their departure from the household, the agency said it has accepted Princess Mako’s request not to receive such a payment.

The unprecedented decisions come as the crown prince maintains the view that the marriage is not supported by many Japanese and therefore the traditional ceremonies cannot be held.

In lieu of the rites, the princess will meet with Emperor Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, at the Imperial Palace next Friday, as well as with her grandparents — former Emperor Akihito and former Empress Michiko — on Oct. 25, according to the agency.

On Oct. 26, the couple plan to face the press for the first time in about four years since the Komuro family money issue came to light.

Komuro and the princess were unofficially engaged in September 2017, with their wedding initially scheduled for Nov. 4, 2018, but the agency announced in February the same year the postponement of ritual ceremonies following reports detailing the financial trouble between Komuro’s mother and the former fiance.

The agency revealed earlier this month that the princess has been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder caused by what she described as psychological abuse the couple and their families had received.

Complex PTSD develops in response to prolonged and repeated experience of trauma, including verbal abuse and cyberbullying, according to Tsuyoshi Akiyama, a psychiatrist who diagnosed the princess. The couple has often been subjected to derogatory comments on social media.

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