Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Japanese princess to wed, worsening royal shortage

‘PRINCE OF THE SEA’:The purported groom-to-be admitted to having a telephone conversation with the princess on Tuesday, but refused to comment further

Reuters, TOKYO

Japanese Princess Mako on Sept. 8 last year arrives at the presidential residence in Asuncion to meet Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes.

Photo: Reuters

Japanese Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, is to wed a former college classmate, Japanese media reported, heating up debate on the ever-shrinking royal family since she must become a commoner after marriage.

The Japanese Cabinet is expected to approve a bill tomorrow to allow Akihito, 83, to step down, the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two centuries, after he said in August last year that he feared age would make it hard to fulfill his duties.

However, the legislation is to make no reference to the controversial topics of whether to revise a males-only succession law or to allow women to stay in the imperial family after marriage, a move conservatives fear would be a first step to letting females inherit the throne.

Asked about the problem of the shortage in royals, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Wednesday: “There is no change in our view to proceed with consideration of steps to ensure stable imperial succession.”

Mako’s unofficial fiance, Kei Komuro, 25, yesterday appeared before media camera outside the Tokyo law office where he works, a day after the news of their engagement broke.

The Japanese Imperial Household Agency declined to comment.

“Now is not the time for me to comment, but I want to speak at the right time,” Komuro, 25, repeatedly told reporters.

Komuro, who media said once served as a “Prince of the Sea” to promote tourism in a locality near Tokyo, did say he had a brief telephone conversation with Mako on Tuesday.

There are only four heirs to the Japanese throne — Akihito’s two middle-aged sons, whose wives are in their early 50s, Akihito’s octogenarian brother, and Prince Hisahito, the 10-year-old son of Akihito’s younger son.

Akihito has only four grandchildren, the other three of whom are female — Mako, her younger sister, Kako, and Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito’s daughter, Aiko. The shrinking royal population — which mirrors the broader trend of Japanese society — has raised concerns that the youngest prince might also be the last.

“Under the present system, there is the risk that Hisahito will be the only one left in the imperial family,” Keio University professor Hidehiko Kasahara was quoted by media outlets as telling an experts panel that studied the abdication issue.

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