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Japan's Princess Mako intends to move forward with marriage plan

Succession, scandal in fiance's family and pandemic left wedding in limbo

Princess Mako said she and fiance Kei Komuro are "irreplaceable" to each other. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency)

TOKYO -- Princess Mako, niece of Japan's Emperor Naruhito, expressed her determination Friday to go ahead with her postponed marriage to commoner Kei Komuro, calling it "a necessary choice for us to live while protecting our feelings."

The 29-year-old Mako, the oldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino, and Komuro announced their plans to get married more than three years ago. The princess reiterated the pair's strong feelings about the relationship in a note released through the Imperial Household Agency, "with the understanding of [her] parents."

"Princess Mako discussed her feelings about the marriage" to her parents, who said "they respect those feelings," Takaharu Kachi, an aide to Akishino and his family, told a news conference.

Mako's note acknowledged that "there are some who think negatively" of the match. But, she said, the two of them are "irreplaceable" to each other and "can lean on each other in times of joy and sorrow."

"It is difficult to provide specifics at this time" about future plans, but "we want to move forward with the marriage in consultation with our families," she said.

Japan's Princess Mako, right, and fiance Kei Komuro hold a news conference in September 2017.   © Kyodo

Kachi cited "the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in various areas" as a complicating factor.

The tentative engagement of Mako and Komuro, who met as classmates at International Christian University in Tokyo, was announced in September 2017. But shortly thereafter, weekly magazines were abuzz with reports of financial problems involving Komuro's mother and her former fiance.

The following February, Mako said through the Imperial Household Agency that there was "a lack of time to make sufficient preparations" for the marriage. The necessary ceremonies were postponed until after the end of the accession rites in 2020.

If the two want to marry, "there should be an appropriate response" to the financial issues involving Komuro's family, Akishino said in November 2018. The betrothal rite "cannot take place unless many people can accept and celebrate" it, he added.

Asked about the situation a year later, he said, "I think that it is necessary to release some kind of announcement," given that the postponement had been announced nearly two years ago at that time.

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