Japanese Princess Mako announced that she plans to marry a commoner, meaning that she will need to give up her royal status. The country is concerned that if the royal family continues to shrink, there will not be enough members to fulfill the duties of the family.

Japan's Princess Mako

Japan’s Princess Mako Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Japan’s Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, announced her engagement to Kei Komuro, a commoner who is a graduate student working at a law firm. By marrying Kei Komuro, 25-year-old Mako will be giving up her royal status.  

Mako and Komuro met five years ago when they were studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo. Ironically enough, during his studies, Komuro starred in a tourism campaign as the “Prince of the Sea.”

According to the Imperial law, only men can inherit the throne. Today, there are only three heirs: Crown Prince Naruhito; his younger brother Crown Prince Akishino; and Akishino’s son Prince Hisahito. Other than Mako, there are six unmarried princesses and they too will lose their places in the royal family if they marry commoners.

The last princess to give up her royal status was Mako’s aunt, Sayako, who married a city planner in 2005. Many in Japan are worried about the size of the royal family, which is only made up of 19 people, 14 of whom are women. If the family continues to shrink, there may not be enough members to fulfill the various jobs with which the family is tasked.