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Japanese Princess Mako to Give Up Royal Status to Marry a Commoner

One of Japan’s princesses has set her mind on marrying a member of the public, reigniting debate over the country’s outdated imperial law.

The Imperial Household recently confirmed media reports about an impending engagement between Princess Mako and Kei Komuro, a legal assistant and graduate student at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, according to the Japan Times.

The couple met when they were both students at the International Christian University, says the Imperial Household. Preparations are underway for their engagement in mid-June this year, and a wedding ceremony in 2018.

The union has turned media attention to Komuro, who once appeared as “Prince of the Sea” in a commercial campaign to promote tourism in the coastal city of Fujisawa.

At the same time, however, many are also voicing concerns over the impracticalities of Japan’s Imperial House Law. For one, the public is worried that there won’t be enough male members to attend to public duties, since the fourteen royal daughters in this nineteen-person royal family are not allowed to reign.

And, once the couple ties the knot, according to the law, Princess Mako must also leave the imperial household. Her sons – were she to have any – would not be placed in line for succession to the throne either.

“[The law is] anachronistic and ridiculous, in terms of gender and class. Even the imperial family, and the politicians responsible for the law, need to move into the 21st century,” said Gill Steel, an associate professor at Doshisha University, to the New York Times.

"I personally think a female imperial member should be allowed [to remain in the family]," said Meiko Hirayama, an accountant, to CNN. "I guess the male line of succession would be kept through the crown prince and his brother, but I think there should be no problem that there could be a female emperor someday."

[Photo via The Straits Times]

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