Princess Mako of Akishino was born on 23 October 1991 at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo as the eldest daughter of Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, now Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. She has a younger sister named Princess Kako and a younger brother Prince Hisahito.
She was educated at the Gakushūin School in her Primary, Girls’ Junior and Senior High School years. She spent two months at University College in Dublin to study English before going on to study at the International Christian University. She graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Cultural Heritage. She went on to study art history at the University of Edinburgh for nine months. She later obtained her Master of Arts degree in Art Museum and Gallery Studies from the University of Leicester in January 2016. When she graduated, she stated that “her time at the University of Leicester had been “a wonderful experience.” She added that she would “like to express my sincere gratitude for having had the opportunity to pursue my studies in such a favourable environment. It has been a very fruitful year for me. I hope to apply what I have learned at postgraduate school in the future.” 1
In 2011, Princess Mako turned 20 years old and officially came of age. On her birthday, she received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown. Since that time, she has been attending official events as a member of the Imperial Family. Princess Mako has an interest in art and architecture, and she even visited Vienna for two weeks on a homestay program. After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Princess Mako secretly volunteered in the affected areas under the name Makoshi. She later said of that time, “I did not visit the disaster area in the form of giving sympathy like Their Majesties and other royal families, but I had the opportunity to help in the disaster area as one of the volunteers in the summer. I thought that I understood the situation of the earthquake through talking to the people concerned in Tokyo and media reports, but I realized that there are things that I would not understand until I actually went there. I did.” 2
Princess Mako’s engagement to Kei Komuro was announced in 2017, with the wedding initially expected to take place in November 2018. However, the wedding was postponed after it turned out that Kei Komuro’s mother was involved in a financial dispute with her former fiancé. Some of the money involved in the dispute had gone towards paying Kei Komuro’s tuition. The conflict meant that the public began to disapprove, and a media frenzy ensued.
“Weekly magazines and daytime TV shows are reporting frantically on this because it helps their sales and viewing figures,” Kaori Hayashi, a professor at Tokyo University, told The Guardian. “They are particularly critical of the Komuros because they are not fully protected by the Imperial Household Agency.” 3 Kei Komuro attempted to explain the dispute publicly, but the public remained unconvinced. He reportedly also offered to return the money.
As time dragged on, Kei Komuro went on to study Law at Fordham University in New York. He recently returned to Japan with a degree and a job at the New York law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP. Unfortunately, Princess Mako was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder following all the media scrutiny.
After Kei Komuro’s return to Japan in September 2021, it was announced that the marriage was set to go ahead for 26 October, but the couple would forego many of the traditional rites that usually accompany marriage. Under the current rules, female members of the Imperial Family formally lose the style of Imperial Highness and the title of Princess upon marriage to a commoner. They usually receive a lump-sum payment of approximately $1.3m to maintain their dignity, but Princess Mako requested not to receive this payment. Princess Mako met with her uncle and aunt, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, in lieu of the traditional rites. She also visited the Imperial Palace Sanctuaries and her grandparents, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.
Mako and Kei Komuro are planning to move to the United States. However, as members of the Imperial Family do not have passports, she will first need to create a family registry with Komuro as a commoner before applying for a passport. Thus, Princess Mako will be the first female royal in postwar Japan not to receive the payment and to marry a commoner without the traditional rites.
On 26 October 2021, Mako and Kei’s marriage was registered, officially making her Mrs Mako Komuro.