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Japan princess to wed, sparking debate on shrinking royal family

TOKYO: Japanese Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, will 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.

Japan’s cabinet is expected to approve a bill on Friday to allow Akihito, 83, to step down, the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two centuries, after he said last August he feared age would make it hard to fulfil his duties. But the legislation will 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.

- Japanese Emperor Akihito (seated 3rd L) and Empress Michiko (seated 4th L), smile with their family members during a photo session for the New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan in this handout picture taken and provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Also in the picture are Crown Prince Naruhito (seated 2nd L), his wife, Crown Princess Masako (Seated L), their daughter, Princess Aiko (top 2nd L), Prince Akishino, (Seated 2nd R), his wife, Princess Kiko (Seated R), their daughters, Princess Mako (top L), and Princess Kako (top R), and their son, Prince Hisahito (top 2nd R). Imperial Household Agency of Japan PHOTO: REUTERS

– Japanese Emperor Akihito (seated 3rd L) and Empress Michiko (seated 4th L), smile with their family members during a photo session for the New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan in this handout picture taken and provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Also in the picture are Crown Prince Naruhito (seated 2nd L), his wife, Crown Princess Masako (Seated L), their daughter, Princess Aiko (top 2nd L), Prince Akishino, (Seated 2nd R), his wife, Princess Kiko (Seated R), their daughters, Princess Mako (top L), and Princess Kako (top R), and their son, Prince Hisahito (top 2nd R). Imperial Household Agency of Japan PHOTO: REUTERS

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Asked about the problem of the shortage in royals, 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.”

The 25-year-old Mako’s unofficial fiance, Kei Komuro, appeared before media cameras on Wednesday outside the Tokyo law office where he works, a day after the news of their engagement broke. The 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’d had a brief phone conversation with Mako on Tuesday.

There are only four heirs to the throne – Akihito’s two
middle-aged sons, whose wives are in their early 50s, Akihito’s
octogenarian brother, and Prince Hisahito, the ten-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 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 may 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 as telling an experts panel that studied the abdication issue.

Mako, who like her groom-to-be graduated from International
Christian University, has a master’s degree from the University
of Leicester and has been working as a researcher at a museum.

The post Japan princess to wed, sparking debate on shrinking royal family appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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