‘You only live once’: Japanese princess Mako and new ‘commoner’ husband defend their marriage in address

·3-min read

Japan’s Princess Mako and her “commoner” husband Kei Komuro have apologised to those hurt by the controversy surrounding their marriage on Tuesday, while also defending their union.

Addressing the media for the first time after the couple registered their marriage, Ms Mako said: “For me, Kei-san is a priceless person. For us, our marriage was a necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts.”

Mr Komuro said: “I love Mako. You only live once, and I want to spend my life with someone I love. I hope to have a warm family with Mako-san, and I will continue to do everything to support her.”

The couple formalised their marriage on Tuesday morning, after which Ms Mako forfeited her royal status as dictated by Japanese law. The union has been heavily criticised on the domestic front. The wedding was not a lavish, royal affair and did not have any elaborate rituals such as a grand reception hosted by the Imperial family of Japan.

They addressed reporters soon after, in what was their first press conference for some years, saying the union was a “necessary choice”. Though they did not take any questions, they provided written answers to questions submitted by journalists beforehand.

Their marriage split public opinion in Japan and has been delayed for more than three years. Their engagement was formally announced in 2017 and they were originally due to wed in 2018.

The Imperial Household has said that the delay was due to a lack of preparation, but reports said that it was due to Mr Komuro’s mother’s debt of $36,000 (£26,000), which she had allegedly failed to pay back to her former fiancé. Mr Komuro has said the money was a gift and not a loan but it still unclear if the dispute has been resolved.

Ms Mako said that the negative and “incorrect” reporting about her husband had hurt her and caused her great fear and stress.

“The flow of arbitrary criticism of Kei’s actions, as well as one-sided speculation that ignored my feelings, made falsehoods somehow seem like reality and turn into an unprovoked story that spread,” she said.

She added: “I sincerely hope that our society will be a place where more people can live and protect their hearts with the help of warm help and support from others.”

Earlier this month, palace doctors said Ms Mako suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the negative coverage about her marriage and the attacks on Mr Komuro.

“I feel very sad that Mako has been in a bad condition, mentally and physically, because of the false accusations,” Mr Komuro said at the press conference.

The couple, both aged 30, thanked those who had supported their union. They will now move to New York, where Mr Komuro works in a law firm.

Ms Mako is the niece of Emperor Naruhito. She met Mr Komuro while attending Tokyo’s International Christian University in 2012. She will now take her husband’s surname as ordained by Japanese law, and is no longer a princess.

The Imperial Royal House allows only male succession and women who get married to commoners are required to give up their royal status.

Ms Mako has also declined a payment of 150 million yen (around £985,000) normally handed out to female members of Japan’s royal family who marry commoners and leave the family upon marriage. She is the first woman from the royal family to deny both the rituals of a royal wedding and the monetary gift.

Additional reporting by agencies

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