Crown Prince of Japan reveals HE decided his daughter Princess Mako shouldn’t have a traditional Shinto wedding due to husband’s financial scandal – and wishes couple ‘all the best’ despite not attending ceremony
The Crown Prince of Japan has revealed he made the decision his daughter Princess Mako should not have any traditional wedding rites because of the scandal surrounding her new husband’s finances.
Mako, eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, gave up her royal title to marry ‘commoner’ Kei Komuro last month in a small civil ceremony without any of the traditional Shinto rituals.
The couple have since moved to a one-bedroom apartment in New York, where Komuro works as a lawyer.
Crown Prince Fumihito, 56, said in statements published today that he made a ‘judgement call’ that the day should be held without ceremony due to the public unease around his son-in-law’s financial history.
Mako, eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, gave up her royal title to marry ‘commoner’ Kei Komuro last month in a small civil ceremony without any of the traditional Shinto rituals. Her father revealed it had been his decision
There is a dispute over whether Komuro’s mother owes her former fiancé money. She claims he gave her an amount to put towards her son’s education as a gift, he says it was a loan that was not paid.
After announcing his engagement to Mako, Komuro published a statement defending himself, but it is still unclear if the dispute has been fully resolved. It has also not been enough to win over the Japanese public.
In the footage, released today, Fumihito said his daughter had wanted to address the issue at a press conference on her wedding day but that she pulled out for mental health reasons.
‘Up until the last minute Mako had wanted the press conference to be a two-way one but it was difficult due to her complex PTSD,’ the crown prince said, adding that it would have been better if Komuro had the ‘opportunity to speak and answer questions directly’ regarding the financial troubles of his family.
The Crown Prince of Japan has blasted the coverage of his daughter’s recent wedding, saying ‘horrible’ things were written on social media and in mainstream news
Instead the couple read a pre-prepared statement and provided written answers to five questions submitted in advance by members of the media.
Fumihito said he sent his daughter of on her wedding day with the best wishes for their new life in the US and that they had decided it would be the ‘best thing for them’.
The prince also indicated the imperial family might take action against news outlets that publish false information about its members in future.
‘If you read the tabloids, well – I’m not sure how to say this exactly – but there’s a lot of things in there that are fabricated, although there are also some opinions we should listen to,’ Akishino said when asked about the connection between media coverage and his daughter’s diagnosis.
Though Japan was captivated when Mako and Komuro, who she met at university, announced their engagement in 2017, revelations of the scandal touched off intense media scrutiny and criticism.
‘As for articles on the internet, there are also lots of comments… and some of them say really terrible things,’ Akishino added.
Referring to recent cases of suicide by Japanese celebrities after campaigns of criticism on social media, he said: ‘There are people who have been deeply hurt by such slanders on the internet and there are people who lost their lives as a result of that.
‘Slanders, words that hurt people deeply, should not be tolerated wherever they are: on the internet or in magazines.’
Some royal watchers said the furore over Mako’s marriage, which even sparked protests against the wedding, might have been toned down with more adept handling by the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, pointing to how similar incidents are handled by royals overseas.
The prince revealed he sent Mako off on her wedding day with best wishes for her new life in the United States, as the couple had decided ‘it was the best thing for them’. Pictured, Mako says goodbye to her family ahead of her pared back marriage service
Akishino said the IHA does sometimes correct ‘mistaken’ information on its website but implied more might be needed.
‘If you are going to argue against an article, you have to set proper standards and then protest when those are exceeded,’ he said.
‘Negative coverage may continue, so I think it is necessary to consider setting such standards in consultation with the IHA.’
Currently, members of the family are generally expected to stoically weather any criticism with little public complaint.
Although Japan appears modern in many ways, values about family relations and the status of women often are seen as antiquated and rooted in feudal practices.
The Crown Prince with his wife, daughters Mako (left) and Kiko (right) and son Hisahito in 2011
Such views were accentuated in the public’s reaction to the marriage. Some Japanese feel they have a say in such matters because taxpayer money supports the imperial family system.
Other princesses have married commoners and left the palace. But Mako is the first to have drawn such a public outcry, including a frenzied reaction on social media and in local tabloids.
Polls show that up to 80 per cent of Japanese oppose the marriage that took place with none of the usual pomp and ceremony in a register office in Tokyo.
Pomp and pageantry: Imperial weddings in Japan are a far cry from Princess Mako’s registry office service
Akihito, wearing a sokutai and holding a shaku, a dress reserved for members of the imperial family, at his wedding to Michiko in 1959. The couple went on to become the emperor and empress, and left the throne in 2019
Following the wedding ceremony, Japanese Crown Prince Akihito and his bride, former Michiko Shoda, pose together before beginning triumphant drive thru streets of Tokyo. The couple wore traditional Japanese costumes for the actual wedding ceremony
Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko wave to well-wishers on the coach at a parade after the royal wedding on April 10, 1959 in Tokyo
Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Akishino, Mako’s parents, pose with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko after the ‘Kekkon-no-Gi’ wedding ceremony on June 29, 1990
Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, now the Emperor and Empress, waving to people during the parade after their wedding ceremony in Tokyo in 1993
Thousands of well-wishers gathered on the streets of Tokyo and waved flags as the newlyweds passed in their open-top car
Masako looked radiant in a white wedding dress with twinkling tiara as she joined her new husband in the car in June 1993