Japan’s Former Princess Mako Arrives in New York City to Start a New Life

Last month, Japan’s former princess Mako Komuro officially left the royal family when she married her college sweetheart Kei Komuro in a subdued civil registration ceremony that ended in a confrontational press conference. On Sunday, Mako and Kei arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to begin a new life in America.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, the couple left the apartment they shared in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward and arrived at the airport, where approximately 100 reporters were gathered to cover their departure. Kei was photographed wearing a fair isle sweater with a t-shirt featuring Darth Vader, while Mako wore a sleek black outfit. When they arrived at the airport after an approximately 12-hour flight, Mako added an olive-colored peacoat.

The couple originally announced their engagement in May 2017, but postponed their marriage, citing “immaturity,” after Kei’s family was pilloried in the Japanese tabloids over an alleged financial scandal. Despite the postponement, he remained a constant subject in the country’s media, even as he moved to the U.S. to attend Fordham University’s law school. On their wedding day, protesters gathered in a nearby public park to register disapproval of the match. 

Mako is a granddaughter of former emperor Akihito and a niece of the current emperor Naruhito. Though male members of the family are allowed to marry commoners and remain in the line of succession, female members may not. When former princess Ayako Moriya, one of Mako’s cousins, married a commoner in 2018, she celebrated with an elaborate ceremony involving red robes 

Kei and Mako eschewed this tradition and instead held a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo, where they read from prepared statements that accused the press of spreading groundless accusations about Kei’s family and harming Mako’s mental health. 

“I love Mako. We only get one life, and I want us to spend it with the one we love,” Kei said, according to the AFP. “I feel very sad that Mako has been in a bad condition, mentally and physically, because of the false accusations.”

After his graduation this spring, Kei secured a position as a law clerk at a Manhattan-based firm, and according to the Guardian, Japanese media reports that they have already found a place in the city to live. A week after the wedding, Kyodo News revealed that Kei did not pass the New York State bar exam but was expected to retake the test in February. In university, Mako studied art curation and worked at museums in Tokyo, and she may look for a similar job in New York.

Like Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, to whom the Komuros have been compared, they are reportedly seeking financial independence. Though Mako was entitled to a $1.3 million payment as a part of her decision to leave the family, in September the Imperial Household announced that she would forgo it.

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