This coming July, Kei Komuro, husband of Prince Akishino's eldest daughter, will be making his third attempt to pass the New York State bar examination.
Will Komuro get lucky this time? Citing an old saying that goes, Sandome no shojiki (the third time's a charm), Shukan Post (May 6-13) reports that a growing number of voices are being raised that the couple would be better off returning to Japan.
This view is shared not only by reporters covering the Imperial Household Agency, but by international attorneys and royalty watchers as well.
Komuro's not passing the bar exam means an unstable lifestyle for the couple, who wed in Tokyo last Oct 26.
Just being permitted to work in the U.S., moreover, is no simple matter.
"If the law office where Komuro is currently employed decides to lay him off, it's possible his U.S. visa will be invalidated," says Hiroshi Kiyohara, an attorney licensed to practice in New York.
Commenting on Mako's working as a volunteer for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Daily Mail of April 12 pointed out that since she entered the U.S. on a spouse visa, she is not permitted to undertake bona fide employment.
Currently, Komuro and his wife reside in an apartment in central Manhattan where the monthly rent has been reported to be around the equivalent of ¥500,000.
According to statistics of other aspirants on their third bar examination, Komuro's chances of passing are believed to be 30% at best.
A news reporter points out some of the other potential downsides to the couple's residing in the Big Apple, including being hounded by paparazzi; the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes; and the general increase in crimes of violence, such as a mass shooting that occurred not far from the couple's residence.
"If Komuro's still determined to be admitted to the bar in New York State, he can cram for the test while working in Japan, and just fly back to New York to take the examination," suggested the aforementioned attorney Kiyohara.
If the couple does return to Japan, that will also give a boost to Prince Akishino, the emperor's younger brother and first in line for succession to the throne.
"Having a big sister around could be expected provide Prince Hisahito, who is in second line to the throne after his father, with psychological support," says a journalist who covers the Imperial Household Agency. "And as long as Mako is living peacefully in Japan under her family's watchful eyes, she can devote herself to various duties with peace of mind."
Privacy is another issue, and not just for the couple, but the entire imperial family.
"If the Komuros are approached by the local media in the U.S., the Imperial Household Agency has no control over the situation in a foreign country, so there's likely to be less cause for concern if they stay in Japan," points out the aforementioned journalist covering the Imperial Household Agency.
"If Komuro were still a bachelor, he could work things out even without financial issues, and keep taking the bar exam until he passes it," remarked cartoonist Mayumi Kurata, who has been observing the couple's activities since they first announced their engagement. "But now he's got a wife to support.
"It's certainly notable for him to move to the U.S. and harbor the ambition of becoming an attorney, but I think the time has arrived for him to beat a 'courageous retreat,'" Kurata said, adding, "After studying in the U.S. for three years, I realize how hard it will be for him to say, 'I give up,' He may want to be recognized by the world as a man who is worthy of Mako, but now that he has a family, I think he needs to plant his feet solidly on the ground first.
"At the end of the day, it's up to the individual, but whether in Japan or the U.S., if Komuro lands a job and applies himself at it, the couple will eventually fade from the limelight and have the peace and quiet they both seek," Kurata predicts.© Japan Today