Japan’s Princess Mako has postponed her wedding to her college sweetheart until 2020, sparking speculation that alleged money trouble involving the fiance’s mother could have thrown a spanner in the works.
In an announcement that came completely out of the blue, the 26-year-old eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito cited time constraints as the reason to delay the formal engagement.
“We have come to realize that we do not have enough time to prepare for the ceremonies and our new life before the wedding planned in autumn,” she said in a statement released through the Imperial Household Agency yesterday.
Mako and Kei Komuro, also 26, had been scheduled to be formally engaged in a traditional court ceremony next month before their wedding on Nov. 4.
The Imperial Household Agency insisted the couple still want to wed and denied any connection between the postponement and a series of magazine articles about the alleged money trouble of the Komuro family.
However, speculation is swirling that there could be more than meets the eye to the postponement, which was leading yesterday’s television news programs.
For weeks, gossip magazines have been delving into the finances of Komuro’s mother, who is widowed.
Late last month, Japan’s two biggest weeklies, each quoting an acquaintance of “a former fiance” of the mother, reported she had not repaid more than ￥4 million (US$36,720) she had borrowed from him.
The man called off the engagement after she asked for money so often, the reports said.
The money was reportedly spent on supporting the single-parent household and her son’s school tuition, including six months at a US university.
However, the Komuros said they thought the money was “a gift,” the Shukan Shincho weekly reported.
“There have been worried voices in the Imperial Household Agency since the money trouble was reported,” the Asahi Shimbun said.
“Even an ordinary family would have cold feet over their beloved daughter’s marriage if weekly magazines wrote this much,” tabloids quoted an anonymous “top official of the Imperial Household Agency” as saying.
Kei Komuro late on Tuesday declined to comment, merely bowing deeply to a swarm of reporters waiting for him to finish work.
In her statement, the princess said the couple needed to announce their informal engagement “much earlier than planned” after the news leaked out in May last year.
Schedules for events concerned were then announced in November last year, but she admitted this might have been done “too hastily.”
“We should have thought twice carefully whether the pace was actually right for us... Now, we’d like to have the marriage, a major life event, in a better way,” she said.
She apologized to those planning the royal wedding, blaming the young couple’s “immaturity.”
They have already informed the emperor and empress that wedding-related ceremonies will be delayed until 2020.
The imperial family has a packed schedule next year as the 84-year-old Akihito is to abdicate on April 30 — the first time for more than two centuries that a Japanese emperor has stepped down.
Mako is the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino, Naruhito’s brother, and Princess Kiko.
The Nikkei Shimbun warned against labeling Kei Komuro as not suitable as a partner for the royal.
“It would be a shame for a democratic country if concerns and criticism about family lineage or economic resources caused pressure,” it said, adding that it could create serious problems for future royal marriages.
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