Komuro’s engagement to former Princess Mako, announced in 2017, sparked widespread public outcry, primarily on social media and in tabloids. One reason was a financial problem of Komuro’s mother, although that has been resolved.
Japan appears modern on the surface, but values about family and women are rooted in feudal practices. Many Japanese people are also jealous of people who study abroad or get jobs with international companies.
Komuro, 31, graduated from Fordham University law school, has a job at a New York law firm and has been living in New York with Mako, a museum curator.
Komuro missed the bar on his two previous attempts. It is common for people to pass after several attempts. Out of 9,609 candidates for the latest exam, the pass rate was 66% with 6,350 people including Komuro.
The couple did without a fancy wedding, registered their marriage and left for New York in November last year. They met while attending Tokyo International Christian University a decade ago.
Japanese tabloids had stalked the couple in New York, taking snapshots and sarcastically commenting on Mako’s casual clothing, which contrasted with the usual formal clothing of Japan’s imperial family.
Other princesses married commoners and left the palace, as there is only male succession in the imperial family. But the reaction to Komuro and Mako was especially frantic, much of it centered on whether she could support his wife.
Speculation has now shifted to how much money he might be making as a lawyer, rather than when he might be fired.
Reports say that Komuro’s unstable position will improve with the imperial family, the couple could move from Hell’s Kitchen to a fancier neighborhood, and Komuro’s mother could move in with them.
Mako, who turns 31 on Sunday, is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, who also married a commoner, Masako. Masako, a Harvard graduate, suffered from depression in the cloistered imperial life. Former Emperor Akihito, father of Naruhito, was the first member of the imperial family to marry a commoner.
The family has no political power but serves as a symbol of the nation, attends ceremonial events and visits disaster areas.
When Komuro returned from the US last year to marry Mako, they met for the first time in three years.
Mako then said, “He is someone I can’t do without.”
Komuro echoed his devotion: “I want to live the only life I have with the person I love.”
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama