Japan Is Losing a Princess
Princess Mako confirms engagement that will lead to her becoming a commoner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 3, 2017 12:45 PM CDT
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Japan's Princess Mako, right, the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and her fiance Kei Komuro, look at each other during a press conference at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Japanese Emperor Akihito's oldest grandchild, Princess Mako, says she is getting married...   (Shizuo Kambayashi)
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(Newser) – Japanese Princess Mako on Sunday confirmed she is getting married to a university classmate, one who won her heart with bright smiles and sincerity, the AP reports. Emperor Akihito's oldest grandchild and fiancé Kei Komuro, both 25, said at a news conference that their relationship started when the princess sat behind him at a campus meeting five years ago at Tokyo's International Christian University, where they graduated. "First I was attracted by his bright smiles like the sun," Mako said, smiling shyly. They talked for the first time at the event for students ahead of a study-abroad program, and then started dating. Over time, she said, she learned he is "a sincere, strong-minded hard worker, and he has a big heart," Mako said.

The couple had a long-distance relationship while studying overseas—Mako in Britain and Komuro in the US—for one year. Then Komuro proposed to her after dinner in December 2013. Details of their wedding have not been decided, and palace officials say the ceremony is expected sometime around autumn next year after a series of rituals, including one that authorizes the engagement. Women aren't allowed to succeed Japan's throne. Mako will lose her royal status after marrying Komuro, who is a commoner. Mako's 83-year-old grandfather, Emperor Akihito, has expressed a desire to abdicate and is expected to do so in late 2018. He'll be succeeded by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. After that, the only person left in the line of succession is Mako's little brother.

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