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The Tale of Princess Mako of Japan

05 September 2017, 09:22 | Melanie Burgess

Japanese princess gives up her royal status to marry a piano-loving commoner she fell for because of his 'bright smiles like the sun'

Princess Mako the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko will forsake her royalty to marry fiancé Kei Komuro a commoner she met at International Christian University in Tokyo

Princess Mako is Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter.

Article 12 of the Imperial House Law stipulates that a woman in the Imperial Family shall lose her status in the family if she marries a person outside the family.

Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, and her fiance, Kei Komuro, hold a news conference on their engagement at the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo on Sept 3. "I was first attracted to his bright smiles that seemed like the sun", she said. "I would like to have a family that is always calm and peaceful", he added.

The pair met five years ago while studying at Tokyo's International Christian University. She also received a Master's degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester in 2016.

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The engagement to Kei Komuro, who works in a Tokyo law office, comes after Japanese lawmakers in June approved a bill to allow Akihito to step down, the first abdication by a Japanese monarch since 1817. The decision would mean that the princess will lose her royal status. The official announcement was made in a news conference on Sunday by the Imperial Household Agency.

With regards to the proposal, it was also revealed that Komuro proposed after dinner one evening of December 2013. The couple started dating even before they went overseas and continued their communication after.

The announcement was originally expected in July, but it was later postponed after a rain disaster hit western Japan. Japan's public broadcaster NHK reports that the wedding is expected to take place next year. The princess said to journalists both she and Komuro have been courting from the beginning with future marriage in mind.

Mako's marriage will further shrink Japan's Imperial family, an aged and dwindling institution heading towards a huge generational gap. Once she relinquishes her royal status, the Imperial family to just 18 members, already including the emperor. In this ceremony, Komuro's messenger will announce the wedding date. The other three are her younger sister, Kako, her brother, Hisahito, and Crown Prince Naruhito's daughter, Aiko.

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