Japanese crown prince condemns ‘terrible things’ written about former princess Mako

·6 min read

Japan’s crown prince Akishino hit back at the media for its coverage of his daughter’s engagement and for saying “terrible things” about former princess Mako.

The crown prince, who is emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, said: “For me, slanderous words, words that deeply hurt people — whether they are in magazines or on the internet—are unacceptable.”

Mako, 30, now known as Mako Komuro, announced her engagement to former classmate Kei Komuro in 2017. The two had met as university students and announced that they would get married the next year.

But a couple of months later, when several reports suggested that there was a money dispute between Mr Komuro’s mother and her former fiancé, the media attention on the couple soured.

The two postponed their wedding.

In October this year, the former princess finally got married to Mr Komuro and relinquished her royal status. Under Japanese law, female members of the royal family lose their imperial status if they marry a “commoner.” The rule doesn’t apply to male members.

On Tuesday, the crown prince slammed the coverage of her daughter’s wedding and called some magazine reports a “fabrication.” He mentioned that some comments on social media “were horrible.”

He was addressing a media conference last week and the footage was released on Tuesday to mark his 56th birthday.

He also added: “If you are going to argue against an article, you have to set proper standards and then protest when those are exceeded. Negative coverage may continue, so I think it is necessary to consider setting such standards in consultation with the IHA (Imperial Household Agency).”

Mako, the crown prince’s daughter also gave up a traditional payment of about $1.3m given to the female member of the imperial family once they leave the royal household.

The former princess and her husband have been under intense media scrutiny. There was also a protest in Japan against the couple’s marriage.

More recently he was even criticised for sporting a ponytail, considered an unconventional hairstyle in Japan. Observers have said that some conservatives objected to the marriage because of Mr Komuro’s humble origins. Many felt he was not worthy of being the crown prince’s son-in-law.

Mako and her husband were also labelled as “Japan’s Harry and Meghan” — a reference to the UK’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Mako, 30, has also been diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) by palace doctors.

Crown prince Akishino, when asked about media’s coverage of his daughter’s marriage and her complex PTSD, he responded: “If you read the tabloids, well, I’m not sure how to say this exactly, but there’s a lot of things in there that are fabricated, although there are also some opinions we should listen to.”

Japan’s local newspaper, The Mainichi Shimbun had earlier quoted an individual affiliated with the royal family as saying that “even after her condition was announced, weekly magazine reporting’s critical tone has barely changed. We’re worried it may affect her recovery.”

Mako had reportedly started to feel that her “human dignity was being infringed” around 2018 and 2019 but then her diagnosis was not public knowledge.

After her marriage to Mr Komuro, Mako apologised for the “inconvenience caused” and said that she was grateful for those “who have continued to support me.”

She had said: “For me, Kei is irreplaceable — marriage was a necessary choice for us.” Mr Komuro had said: “I love Mako. We only get one life, and I want us to spend it with the one we love. I feel very sad that Mako has been in a bad condition, mentally and physically, because of the false accusations.”

Mr Komuro is a graduate of Fordham University law school and works at a New York law firm.

The crown prince Akishino — the first in line to the Chrysanthemum throne — supported his daughter’s decision and said: “Even if she did prioritise her marriage, which I think is a separate issue as it’s a private matter to begin with, she’s already made her intentions publicly known for four years. If the public were given priority, then she wouldn’t be able to marry for 10 or 20 years.”

He added: “Why one chooses to write harmful things on the internet depends on the person, but many people are deeply hurt as a result of such slander—some who have even contemplated suicide because of it.”

In the past too, several female members of the Japan’s imperial family have had to face intense scrutiny from the public. Mako’s grandmother, Empress Emerita Michiko temporarily lost her voice about 20 years ago when she was also seen as not worthy of being the emperor’s wife. Empress Masako — wife of the emperor Naruhito and Mako’s aunt — battled depression when she was blamed for not giving birth to a male heir.

In 2002, empress Masaka had said: “The situation in which I could not visit other countries for six years required a great effort for myself to adjust.” The imperial family had called it an “adjustment disorder” for which she had to withdraw from her official duties for over a decade.

Meanwhile, Mako and her husband, Kei Komuro moved to New York City a couple of weeks ago.

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