Written by By Staff Writer
Here’s a moment (for the benefit of anyone interested in grumpy-faced photos) you will rarely find yourself confronted with as a journalist: multiple police officers holding riot shields outside a wedding venue.
But that’s what happened on Tuesday at Kyoto’s Meiji Palace, where Princess Mako of Japan, the 20-year-old granddaughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, married her fellow lieutenant, Harvard graduate Kei Komuro.
The couple married by consent in a ceremony that was respectful of Mako’s prerogatives, while in keeping with their desire to have a life away from the media glare.
“Our relationship has prompted great public attention which has been hard for us to cope with,” they said in a statement through Japan’s Imperial Household Agency.
While the abdication of her father propelled Mako into a new position of official status, the world is fixated on her decision to marry a commoner and enter into a multi-generational marriage with Komuro, rather than his Japanese relatives.
By taking such a step, Mako — the eldest child of Crown Prince Naruhito — has made herself the epitome of modernity in her home country.
Suzanne Jeffery, CNN
The economic crisis
The world’s second-largest economy and the world’s second most populated country is in recession, and like many developed nations, Japan is suffering from increased demographic challenges as the number of newborns dwindles.
As a result, traditional notions of marriage and family have become more complicated.
“It’s a head-scratcher for the population,” says Catherine Ogar, a Japanese expert at the University of Exeter, in England.
“It’s terribly interesting that she’s done this. She’s talked about her biological ties with her father being very much in the foreground of her thinking, and I think that has led her towards this bylaws.
“It seems as though it’s all about money and family values. But the idea she is marrying this man who loves her for him because he’s good to her, it’s not that she would just have settled for a bastard who loved her just because he’s a prince.”
Mako is the youngest princess to marry a commoner in more than 100 years, with both the Emperor and the Crown Prince not marrying outside the royal family.