All for love- Japan's Princess Mako to lose royal status

18 May 2017 | Written by Abheet Sethi; Edited by Akriti Asthana

25-year-old Princess Mako, a member of the Japanese royal family, will be surrendering her royal status by marrying a commoner.

Princess Mako is Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter and will soon become engaged to 25-year-old Kei Komuro, a law firm worker she met while in university.

Her decision may reignite the debate on royal succession, with Emperor Akihito also possibly abdicating soon.

In context: Japanese princess to marry commoner, lose royal status

08 Aug 2016Japan's Emperor indicates his desire to abdicate in a video

In a 10-minute pre-recorded message, the 82-year old Japanese Emperor, Akihito described how his declining health was curtailing his abilities to fulfill his duties.

He did not directly comment on his wish to abdicate, as it might imply political interference.

PM Shinzo Abe said the Government would take his remarks seriously and discuss further course of action.

18 May 2017All for love- Japan's Princess Mako to lose royal status

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Imperial lawPrincess Mako's aunt surrendered royal status by marrying commoner

As per Japan's centuries-old imperial law, a princess must leave the imperial family if she marries a commoner.

Emperor Akihito's only daughter Sayako was the last royal to do so when she married town planner Yoshiki Kuroda in 2005.

Sayako had to adjust to a new, more humble lifestyle. She moved to a one-bedroom apartment, learned to drive and shop at a supermarket.

Engagement plansKumuro is the "Prince of the Sea"

Komuro is also a prince of sorts. While in university, he played "Prince of the Sea" in a beach tourism campaign.

Princes Mako met Komuro at a restaurant in Tokyo in 2012 while they were both studying at International Christian University.

The Imperial Household said plans are being made for the princess' engagement, which will be official after a ceremonial exchange of gifts.

Future of monarchyJapan's imperial family is shrinking, raises concern

The news of the impending engagement has reignited concerns over the imperial family's shrinking size.

Currently, the family has 19 members, of whom 14 are female. Under imperial law, the throne can only be passed onto male heirs, of which there are only three.

This has raised concerns that in the long run, there may not be enough royals to carry out public duties.

The succession controversy

A debate about female claims to the throne took place in 2006 when the emperor had no grandsons, but was postponed after a boy was born to the wife of Akihito's second son.