Japan’s Princess Mako is giving up her royal status — all in the name of love.
The Imperial Household says arrangements are in progress for the 25-year-old princess, granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, to become engaged to Kei Komuro, a 25-year old law firm worker and graduate student who once featured in a tourism campaign as “Ruler of the Sea.”
The couple met five years prior as students at the International Christian University in Tokyo.
Japan’s hundreds of years old imperial law requires a princess to leave the royal family upon marriage to a commoner.
The last to do so was Princess Mako’s aunt, Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akhito.
The engagement won’t end up become official until a ceremonial exchange of gifts. The news has reignited worries about the contracting size of the imperial family, having 19 members, 14 of whom are female. The Imperial law states that only male heirs may take the throne.
There are just three male successors: Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Prince Akishino, and Prince Hisahito.
Six other unmarried princesses remain in addition to princess Mako. They may also lose their royal status if they chose to marry a commoner. That has raised the likelihood that the imperial family won’t have enough members to keep doing its open obligations.
Future of the monarchy
The previous summer, 83-year-old Emperor Akihito voiced worries that his age may start to influence his ability to rule.
“When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now,” he said.
Imperial law requires an Emperor to serve forever. Akihito’s declaration placed arrangements into movement for the Japanese parliament to enable the Emperor to step aside should he decide to.