Princess Mako and her new husband Komuri Kei were pictured leaving Tokyo on Sunday as they officially begin their new life as a married couple in New York, following their October wedding.
Mako, 30, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, tied the knot with university sweetheart Kei Komuro, a commoner, in Tokyo after an eight-year engagement – despite many in their native country not supporting the nuptials.
Today, the couple cut casual figures as they were pictured jetting out of Tokyo – with a crowd of spectators and photographers in attendance – bound for the Big Apple.
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Big Apple bound: Princess Mako and her new husband Kei Komuro, both 30, cut casual figures as they were pictured leaving Tokyo’s Haneda international airport on Sunday as they begin a new life together in the US
Crowds and media gathered to watch the pair, escorted by a sizeable entourage, make their way through the terminal as they jet to the US to begin a new life in New York, following their wedding in October
The couple, dragging suitcases behind them, have faced criticism in their homeland and will now reside in New York to support Komuro’s law career at New Jersey firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Princess Mako, 30, pictured ahead of leaving Tokyo on Sunday; her relationship with Komuro has dominated newspaper headlines in the country after it was discovered that his mother had not repaid a 4million yen ($35,000) loan from a former fiancé, partly to pay her son’s law studies tuition
Mako declined the offer of 140million yen (£890,000) payment to which she was entitled for leaving the imperial family, palace officials said, and is expected to find a job in New York.
Wearing white facemasks and pulling suitcases behind them, Mako and Komuro were accompanied by a sizeable entourage, as global media gathered to capture the couple at the airport.
For the long flight to JFK, the former princess opted for a low-key navy blue dress while her new husband wore a cosy knitted green cardigan and navy corduroy trousers.
Earlier this month, it was revealed Komuro had failed the New York State Bar Association exam, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
Komuro took the exam earlier this summer, with the exam results were posted on the website of the New York State Board of Law Examiners on Friday. His name was not amoung the successful candidates.
According to the broadcaster, Komuro ha said he plans to continue studying and will retake the exams in February.
Meanwhile Mako has said she will continue to support her husband’s studies.
Polls show that up to 80 per cent of Japanese oppose the marriage that took place with none of the usual pomp and ceremony in a register office in Tokyo.
A huge entourage accompanied the couple as they made their way through the airport for the 12-and-a-half hour flight to New York
Around 91 per cent of Japanese people said they wouldn’t support the couple’s marriage, following the scandal over Komuro’s finances
Japanese media gathered at the airport this morning as the former Princess and her husband arrived to board the flight that would see them start a new life in America
Last year, the now ex-princess begged the Japanese public to support her decision to marry her partner of eight years
Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, pictured in October at her wedding to university sweetheart Komuro
Komuro was raised by his widowed mother, Kayo. His father died when he was still in elementary school. His jobs in Japan included working in a bank and a French restaurant.
He met Mako in 2013 when they were both studying at the International Christian University outside Tokyo.
His proposal propelled him to the front page of Japanese newspapers – his only previous claim to fame had come from being named Prince of the Sea to lead a tourism campaign in the coastal town of Fujisawa.
The couple, both now 30, got ‘unofficially engaged’ in 2017, and planned to tie the knot in November 2018.
Initially the news was greeted with delight in Japan, but then a scandal grew up when it was discovered that Kayo had not repaid a 4million yen ($35,000) loan from a former fiancé, partly to pay her son’s tuition.
Komuro was raised by his widowed mother, Kayo. His father died when he was still in elementary school. He is pictured above age nine with his late dad
That led critics to suggest Komuro was only marrying the princess for money or fame.
Komuro issued a 24-page explanation about the money – claiming it was a gift not a loan. That made him even more unpopular.
Eventually he said he would repay it, although it is not known whether the money has been returned.
In an online poll just five per cent of respondents in Japan said they would congratulate the couple or celebrate, with an overwhelming 91 per cent saying they wouldn’t.
But despite the turmoil Kei and Mako’s love endured. Last year the now ex-princess begged the Japanese public to support her decision.
‘We are irreplaceable to each other – someone to rely on during both happy and unhappy times,’ she said, announcing the wedding would go ahead.
‘So a marriage is a necessary choice for us to live while cherishing and protecting our feelings.’
On Tuesday, her words were nearly identical. ‘For me, Kei is irreplaceable,’ she said. ‘Marriage was a necessary choice for us.’
Komuro has not lived in Japan for three years and only returned in September to prepare for his wedding ceremony. But his trip home only drew more negative publicity after he arrived at Narita Airport sporting a ponytail, a hairstyle that is deemed disrespectful
In prepared remarks, she also said: ‘I acknowledge that there are various opinions about our marriage. I feel very sorry for the people to whom we gave trouble.
‘I’m grateful for the people who have been quietly concerned about us, or those who continued supporting us without being confused by baseless information.’
She said incorrect reporting on her new husband had caused her ‘great fear, stress and sadness.’
‘The flow of arbitrary criticism of Kei’s actions, as well as one-sided speculation that ignored my feelings, made falsehoods somehow seem like reality and turn into an unprovoked story that spread,’ she added.
Komuro has not lived in Japan for three years.
Soon after the marriage was postponed, he moved to New York, studying law at Fordham University in the Bronx and then landing a job clerking at Lowenstein Sandler in Manhattan, counseling companies and investors on venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions.
He was also criticized for wearing a pin-striped suit when visiting his future in-laws in 2017 (left). He wore pinstripes again during his marriage ceremony (pictured) on Tuesday
He had become so disillusioned with his homeland that he didn’t return once to see his fiancée until going back in September to prepare for his wedding.
And his trip inevitably brought more bad publicity. Conservatives were shocked that he arrived at Narita Airport sporting a ponytail – which he cut off before getting married.
They deemed his hairstyle ‘disrespectful’ and piled on the scorn when they noted that he visited his future in-laws wearing a pin-striped suit rather than one in a solid color. He got married in pinstripes as well.
He was also criticized for his body language – his foes say he keeps his hands in his pockets too much.
But despite the negative feeling towards Komuro, the Japan Times called him ‘a polite and upstanding man.’
On the day of his marriage, he was announced as winner of the New York State Bar Association’s annual student writing competition for a piece on ‘compliance problems in website accessibility and implications for entrepreneurs.’
His prize was a check for $2,000, which won’t go far toward the $1.35million Mako agreed to give up under pressure from an unsympathetic Japanese public. That amount has been paid to the two princesses who have previously left the royal family.
High profile: Princess Mako of Japan, right, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to mark her uncle’s formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019
Princess Mako of Akishin is seen left before her graduation ceremony at the International Christian University on March 26, 2014 in Mitaka, Tokyo, where she met her husband. The marriage means she will be stripped of her royal title and will not be able to return to the family even if the union ends in divorce
Only male members of the Japanese imperial family are allowed to marry ‘commoners, so Mako’s decision to marry for love means a whole slew of new things for her.
For a start, she is no longer considered a princess – even if the marriage ends in divorce she can never return to the family.
For the first time in her life she has a surname and will be known just as Mako Komuro.
She will also have to apply for a passport – royals don’t need them – so she can move Stateside.
She can no longer live in the Imperial Palace. And any sons the couple have will not be in the line of succession for the male-only emperorship.
And that is a potential problem in Japan where there are now only three people allowed by the Imperial Household Law to succeed 61-year-old Emperor Naruhito – and one of those, his uncle Masohito, is 85.
At the press conference, the couple read out prepared statements in which they apologized for any distress their marriage has caused – but defended their decision to go ahead with the ceremony
There were also no official portraits, like these ones taken of then-Crown Prince Prince Naruhito and his wife Crown Princess Masako with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko after their wedding at the Imperial Palace June 9, 1993 in Tokyo
The other two are Nauruhito’s 55-year-old brother Akishino – Mako’s father – and Mako’s brother Hisahito, 15.
The couple blame the negative publicity focused on Mako for the decline in her health.
The Imperial Household Agency said earlier this year that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the public pressure.
And that could only have been made worst by the protestors who gathered in a Tokyo park holding signs opposing the marriage.
The commoner who wooed a princess: How Kei Komuro overcame scandal to wed Mako
Komuro was raised by a single mother, with some media reports saying part of his education was funded by his mother’s former fiancé.
At one point, he earned some money by working for tourism promotion near Tokyo.
Trouble erupted a few months after he and Mako announced their engagement in 2017, when tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance, with the man claiming mother and son had failed to repay a debt of about $35,000.
Komuro later said the money had been a gift, not a loan. But in 2021, he submitted a 24-page explanation and later reportedly said he would pay a settlement.
In September 2018, he left for studies at New York’s Fordham University and didn’t return until September this year, after having graduated from law school and started working at a New York law firm.
When he returned to Japan, he was dressed casually and sporting long hair drawn back in a ponytail, setting off a media frenzy because it was deemed ‘disrespectful’.
But on Tuesday morning, ponytail shorn and dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, he left to claim his bride. Most of his face was covered with a mask in line with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, but he looked happy.
Princess Mako and husband Kei Komuro jet out of Tokyo as they begin married life in New York