Princess Mako Naishinno, eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and niece of Emperor Naruhito, will turn 30 on Oct 23. By then, if things go as planned, she will have become Mrs Mako Komuro and soon thereafter take up residence with her husband, attorney Kei Komuro, in New York City.
The couple met while classmates at International Christian University, a private institution located in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka. They announced their unofficial engagement in September 2017, but Komuro fled to the US following revelations in the media that his mother was involved in a financial dispute with her former fiancé.
Japan's tabloid magazines, in particular Shukan Shincho, have released a storm of coverage concerning the upcoming wedding, much of which tilts toward the negative, and some toward the malicious. For instance, in one magazine headline, Komuro was unkindly referred to as a "gigolo."
Much of the contents of the tabloids appear to be based on leaks, the first source of which some have suspected to be members of a faction in the Imperial House Agency who are opposed to the marriage.
But Nikkan Gendai's long-running column, "Royal Trivia," rises to the defense of the agency, claiming such is not the case this time.
Yes, concedes Nikkan Gendai's writer, when inside reports of this nature surface, the Imperial Household Agency is invariably the first one to come under suspicion. Actually the agency, according to some reports, is quite indignant over suspicions it is involved in the leaks.
"Whenever the subject turns to female members of the imperial household, this raises the specter of 'her royal highness, Mrs Komuro,' and all conversation comes screeching to a halt," says a reporter who covers the agency. "What the agency really wants is for Mako-sama to wed Komuro and quickly depart. I heard they are determined to conclude everything by the year's end."
The above, then, would seem to make it unlikely that the agency would be the source of the negative leaks. Another reason is that agency has its hands full with the move by the emperor and empress into the imperial palace during the month of September. It is also for this reason that matters related to the wedding, such as a press conference, have yet to be announced.
"The leaks appear to have infuriated the agency's grand steward, Yasuhiko Nishimura," the aforementioned reporter said.
So what then, is the source of the leaks, if not the Imperial Household Agency? A person with ties to the agency speculates that it's more likely to be someone in favor of Princess Mako's severing of all ties to royalty upon her wedding a commoner. In that person's view, the only female permitted to retain to royal status should be Princess Aiko, the emperor's daughter.
The "turning point," the writer predicts, will be Princess Mako's 30th birthday. Since the groom's birthday is the same month (Oct 5), the agency is too busy to arrange for celebratory activities, so they are likely to be postponed to between Oct 23 and the birthday of Mako's father, Prince Akishino, on Nov 30.
One key issue not fully resolved is the payout of a one-time stipend believed to be in the range of 137 million yen ($1.2 million). In no uncertain terms, Princess Mako has said she will decline the funds.
The law concerning the stipend, explains Nikkan Gendai, was established to ensure that former royals are able to maintain a "dignified" lifestyle.
"This was the biggest sticking point between the Komuros and the agency," says the aforementioned reporter.
The stipend has nothing to do with whether the public likes or dislikes the princess. The stipend's purpose is to make sure funds are on hand to avoid a situation where a financially strapped former member of the imperial household might become an embarrassment to Japan.
Like so many other aspects of this developing story, the problem might be that no one has taken the trouble to talk matters over with the future Mrs Komuro.© Japan Today