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Mako, a princess of japan, announced her engagement to former classmate Kei Komuro.

Mako, then a Japanese princess, announced her engagement to old classmate Kei Komuro in 2017, saying “his dazzling smiles like the sun” had captured her heart. Five years prior, while they were both university students in Japan, the two had met and expressed their plans to marry the following year. Because female imperial family members lose their royal status when they marry a commoner, the princess would become an ordinary citizen.

Their smiles won them favor in a society where the imperial family is scrutinized and members are expected to uphold traditions. The overwhelming majority of the media coverage was good. That, however, suddenly changed.

Then-Princess Mako speaking with her father, mother and sister before leaving for her wedding

Two months later, the first allegations of an alleged money disagreement between Mr. Komuro’s mother and her previous fiancé surfaced, with the former fiancé alleging that the mother and son had failed to return a loan to him. Some speculated that Mr. Komuro would have financial difficulties in the future.

The public’s opinion of the company sank. The couple’s wedding was postponed due to the official reason that they needed more time to plan their ceremony. The pair did not respond to questions during the press conference because Mako was hesitant to speak in person. Instead, they offered written responses to questions from the media that had been submitted in before, including ones about his mother’s financial problems.

In a written response to one of the inquiries, Mako said, “We have been appalled, afraid, and grieved… as incorrect information has been regarded as reality and that unsubstantiated rumors have spread.”

The point of contention is whether the money his mother received from her ex-fiancé was a loan or a gift. Mako’s father demanded clarification, and Komuro responded by writing a statement defending himself, but it is unclear whether the disagreement has been properly settled.

“As we begin our new life, there will be a variety of challenges, but we’ll face them together, as we have in the past,” Mako added, thanking everyone who helped them. “Many people have problems and painful feelings while attempting to safeguard their hearts,” Mako said, presumably referring to mental health issues. “I genuinely hope that our society will become a place where more individuals may live and protect their hearts with the help and support of others,” she said.

Mako isn’t the only female royal whose mental health has been harmed by threats from both inside and outside the palace. Empress Masako, a Harvard-educated former diplomat, has been suffering from a stress-related mental illness for nearly two decades, in part as a result of criticism for not having a male heir.

Mako’s marriage, according to some critics, demonstrates the problems women confront in the imperial household of Japan.

The Imperial House Law, according to Japan, which only allows male succession, has resulted in Mako’s loss of royal rank. Female imperial family members have just titles and must depart if they marry commoners. Only male royals have household names. Only Akishino and his son, Prince Hisahito, are in line to replace Emperor Naruhito due to the male-only succession rule. Conservatives continue to oppose female succession and enabling women to lead the imperial family, despite a group of government-appointed experts suggesting a more stable succession arrangement.

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