Photo/IllutrationPrincess Mako and Kei Komuro at a September 2017 news conference where they announced their intention to marry (Pool)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Weekly magazine reports that financial problems are behind the abrupt announcement of a delay in Princess Mako's formal engagement and marriage prompted her parents to take the unusual step of demanding answers from the family of Kei Komuro, her intended.

Sources said Mako's parents, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, informed Komuro and his mother that ceremonies to mark their official engagement could not proceed unless the issues raised in the media were properly explained.

Mako and Komuro, who are both 26 and were classmates at International Christian University in Tokyo, held a news conference in September 2017 to announce their intention to marry. However, initial plans to hold the wedding this November were postponed, apparently due in part to concerns raised in the media.

Fumihito and Kiko were said to have conveyed their concerns to the Komuros that without full clarification of the family's financial affairs, the marriage was unlikely to win an outpouring of public affection.

Sources said Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have been kept abreast of developments. Mako is the oldest grandchild of Akihito and Michiko.

Komuro left for the United States on Aug. 7 to further his law studies for three years. He will study at Fordham University in New York.

Fumihito and Kiko have raised the issue at a number of meetings at their residence with Komuro and his mother since the beginning of this year, several sources said. Mako also attended the meetings, the sources said.

After media reports of financial woes arose, Mako and Komuro announced in February that they were postponing their wedding for two years, and released a statement saying they needed more time to prepare for the event.

Mako and Komuro have known each other since they attended a meeting for exchange students at ICU six years ago.

Fumihito and Kiko want to respect the couple's decision in light of constitutional provisions that state "marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes."

At the same time, Mako's parents felt it was imperative that their daughter, as a member of the imperial household, win the blessing of the public.

But as more reports appeared about the financial problems facing the Komuros, Fumihito and Kiko decided to intervene.

They decided the situation could compromise important imperial family rituals that are held to mark an official engagement, culminating in a formal audience with Akihito and Michiko.

For imperial family members, the "nosai no gi" is the highlight of those ceremonies as the families of the groom and bride exchange betrothal gifts, thereby sealing the engagement.

Subsequently, the individual who is to marry an imperial family member must have a formal audience with the emperor and empress.

Female members must leave the imperial family when they wed. But in order to maintain their dignity, the central government gives the couple a lump-sum payment, which is expected to be about 100 million yen ($900,000) in Mako's case.

Sources said that Komuro has explained to Fumihito and Kiko that the media reports are not correct.

They said if that was the case, Komuro should make a public statement to explain the facts and issue a formal denial.

The law firm for which Komuro works was told that even though he will be outside of Japan for three years, Komuro still intends to marry Mako.

At a July 12 news conference, Shinichiro Yamamoto, the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, gave nothing away when he said, "The dates for future events will be decided after the couple's families consult with the pair."