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Japan’s maverick princess sets a wedding date, but don’t expect a lavish royal affair

Japan's Princess Mako is giving up her royal title to marry her commoner college sweetheart. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)
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TOKYO — Japan's Princess Mako and her controversial fiance, Kei Komuro, have set a date for their long-postponed marriage, but don't expect a royal affair.

Because of the sustained outrage over their nuptials, the couple will simply register their marriage on Oct. 26 — which would make Mako the first royal member in postwar history to marry without a traditional celebratory ceremony, according to local reports.

Mako, who must give up her royal title to marry her commoner college sweetheart, is experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder due to the public backlash aimed at the couple, both 29, officials said Friday.

You’ve heard of Harry and Meghan. Now meet Mako and Kei, who have Japan in a tizzy.

Princess Mako of Japan, the 30-year-old niece of Emperor Naruhito, married her college sweetheart, Kei Komuro, on Oct. 26, but there was no royal affair. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Their impending marriage has sparked an unusual level of interest in Japan, where the imperial family is deeply revered and largely operates out of the public eye. Since news surfaced of financial disputes in Komuro’s family in 2018, the couple has faced intense scrutiny.

And their story has gained international attention, with many outside of Japan expressing support for Mako’s decision to pursue her personal desires over the imperial family’s restrictions, especially given that the ban on marrying outside the family applies only to the female members. The two met in 2012 while attending Tokyo’s International Christian University.

Mako will not accept the $1.35 million taxpayer gift intended to soften the blow of abdicating her title — becoming the first in Japan’s royal family to reject the payment.

The couple plan to move to the United States after they are married, and are likely to settle in New York, where Komuro works at a law firm. Mako, a researcher for the University Museum at the University of Tokyo and a certified art curator, is already in demand among art insiders in New York, Page Six reported.

Komuro is in quarantine after arriving from New York on Monday, and the couple will reunite for the first time in three years once he finishes. On Oct. 26, after their wedding, the couple plans to hold their first news conference since 2017.

The family decided against an official ceremony after her father, the Crown Prince Fumihito, determined “most people aren’t in a situation to congratulate their marriage,” said the Imperial Household Agency, which handles matters for the family.

In Japan, the couple has faced a torrent of public backlash, sparked by a financial dispute in Komuro’s family. He has been accused of being a gold digger, unfit for the princess, too slovenly, too smug and a rebel who dares to sport a ponytail.

The repeated and sustained criticism has left Mako feeling violated, and she has had flashbacks driven by fear and difficulties feeling happy, Tsuyoshi Akiyama, a physician and the director of NTT Medical Center Tokyo, said in a news conference Friday.

Akiyama said, “With the warm support from those surrounding her, her condition will improve.”

But her online critics remained relentless. After the Imperial Household Agency’s announcement Friday, “PTSD” trended on Japanese Twitter and some users blamed her for bringing about her own PTSD by choosing to marry Komuro.

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