Japan’s Princess Mako and her fiancé, a commoner, announced their engagement on Sunday, a match which will cost the princess her royal status according to a law that highlights the male-dominated nature of Japan’s monarchy.
She announced this, at a televised press conference held to announce her engagement. She told the nation that she felt “really happy”.
Like all female imperial family members, Mako, who is Emperor Akihito’s eldest granddaughter, forfeits her status upon marriage to a commoner under a controversial tradition. The law does not apply to royal males.
“I’ve been aware since childhood that I would leave royal status once I marry,” she said. “While I worked to help the emperor and fulfil duties as a royal family member as much as I can, I’ve been cherishing my own life.”
Her fiancé, Kei Komuro, a 25-year-old who works at a law firm and once won a tourism promotion contest to be crowned “Prince of the Sea”, said he had proposed to her more than three years ago.
The announcement had originally been planned for July but the couple decided to postpone it out of consideration for a southern region hit by heavy rains and flooding in the month.
An official of the Imperial Household Agency said their wedding will take place after the summer of 2018.
The law removing her royal status upon marriage does not apply to male royals, with Akihito and both his sons wedded to commoners, who are now part of the monarchy.
The news of the engagement has intensified a debate on whether the law should be changed so women born into the imperial family can continue in their royal roles.
Traditionalists, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, strenuously oppose such changes, even though Japan has occasionally been ruled by female sovereigns in past centuries.