TOKYO—Japan’s Princess Mako married her college sweetheart, became a commoner and, hours later, denounced the media for what she said were groundless reports that drove her to despair.
In a statement before the cameras at a Tokyo hotel, Mako said she was the one who urged her then-fiance and now husband, Kei Komuro, to establish a new life in the U.S., suggesting she found the scrutiny of being a royal in Japan unbearable. Mr. Komuro received a law degree from Fordham University’s law school this year after three years of study, and the couple plans to move to New York.
The two spoke in turns for a total of 10 minutes, each with a grim demeanor. There was no pomp or wedding ceremony on the day the 30-year-old princess, who is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, left her palace for good. A palace official delivered papers to a government office registering the marriage with Mr. Komuro, also 30, which was all that was needed to make it official.
Mako mentioned media reports about a financial dispute between Mr. Komuro’s mother and the mother’s former boyfriend, who helped pay for Mr. Komuro’s college education. Those reports, which emerged shortly after the couple announced their engagement in 2017, set off a frenzy of media scrutiny casting a negative light on the Komuro family history including the suicide of Mr. Komuro’s father.
“Incorrect information, for some reason, was treated as if it were unmistakable fact, and I felt frightened at the way these groundless tales spread,” Mako said. “I had feelings of pain and sadness.”
Kei Komuro leaves his house in Yokohama, Japan, on Tuesday.
She said it wasn’t true that Mr. Komuro decided on his own to travel to New York for his law studies. On the contrary, she said, he accelerated his plans for study abroad at her request. “I was the one who asked him and told him I wanted him to set up a base overseas,” she said.
Mr. Komuro started his portion of the statement by saying simply, “I love Mako-san. I only have one life to live, and I would like to live it together with the person I love.”
Later he alluded to the diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder that Mako received, according to a palace statement early this month. He said what he described as slanderous statements caused Mako and his own mother to become unwell.
Mr. Komuro said he offered to make a payment to his mother’s ex-boyfriend to resolve the issue and was making progress toward a settlement.
Mako is the eldest child of Crown Prince Akishino, the emperor’s younger brother. Under Japanese law, the throne can be held only by males. Since there are currently no single adult men with royal status, any female royal wishing to marry must marry a commoner. When she does so, she becomes a commoner herself. Mako is now legally known as Mako Komuro.
Japanese public opinion about the marriage has been split.
“I was initially opposed to the marriage,” said Fumiko Nishimura, a 77-year-old retiree, at a Tokyo shopping mall. “But I’m now persuaded how much they love each other. Look at how hard he studied.”
Mr. Komuro won first prize in a writing competition sponsored by the New York State Bar Association with an essay titled “Compliance Problems in Website Accessibility and Implications for Entrepreneurs.” He recently started a job at New York law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP and took the New York state bar exam, with the result expected later this year.
Kaori Endo, a 55-year-old hair stylist of Tokyo who has two daughters, said she wished the couple luck but was uneasy about Mr. Komuro.
“From a parent’s point of view, I cannot congratulate them from the bottom of my heart,” Ms. Endo said.
Hidetsugu Yagi, a professor at Reitaku University, said Mako set a precedent by skipping all the usual wedding ceremonies and turning down a parting gift of more than $1 million usually granted to former female royals when they marry. He said that would make it easier for Mako’s younger sister, Princess Kako, 26, and the emperor’s daughter, 19-year-old Princess Aiko, to choose a partner.
But that freedom could also create instability if Prince Hisahito, 15, Mako’s brother who is second in line to the throne, decided he didn’t want to become emperor, Prof. Yagi said.
Prof. Yagi said he feared the newlyweds might try to cash in on their fame in Hollywood. He referred to Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife,
who left behind their royal duties and established themselves in the U.S. “Everyone hopes they will not become like Harry and Meghan,” he said.
In a written response to a question submitted by foreign media, Mako declined to comment on the Harry-and-Meghan comparison and said she didn’t envision an
-style interview. “I am not considering giving any interviews at the moment,” she said. “What I would like is just to lead a peaceful life in my new environment.”
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