‘Smile like the sun’ drew Princess to her university love

TOKYO: Japanese Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, said she was first attracted to her boyfriend Kei Komuro’s “smile like the sun,” as the couple announced their engagement on Sunday.
“I’m truly delighted with our engagement after receiving approval from the imperial majesty,” Mako told a news conference, referring tothe emperor. “I believe I was first attracted to his smile like the sun,” the 25-year-old princess recalled.
Komuro, also 25, said the princess “quietly watches me like the moon”and that he was first enchanted by her as she is “a loving person with firm beliefs.”
The couple said they have dated for about five years since speaking to each other for the first time at the International Christian University in Tokyo in 2012. Komuro said he proposed in December 2013 after having dinner with the princess in Tokyo.
“Certainly, I felt truly happy when he proposed and since my mind was already set. I accepted his proposal on the spot,” Mako said.
The couple will marry possibly in autumn 2018, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
“Kei Komuro is a truly respectable person and the right marriage partner for Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako so we could not be happier about their informal engagement today,” the agency’s grand steward Shinichiro Yamamoto told a news conference earlier in the day.
Their announcement was postponed in July, when torrential rains caused mudslides and severe flooding on the southern island of Kyushu, leaving 36 dead and five unaccounted for. Mako’s engagement draws renewed attention to the shrinking imperial family in Japan.
Females have to give up their status as members of the household once they marry non-royals, and her marriage will reduce the members of the imperial family to just 18.
Mako’s younger brother, 10-year-old Prince Hisahito, is the only male member of their generation. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako have only one child, a daughter, 15-year-old Princess Aiko.
Only a male heir can inherit the Chrysanthemum throne under the Imperial Household Law in Japan.
In June, Japan’s parliament enacted a one-time law to allow the 83-year-old emperor to relinquish the throne after he indicated his apparent wish to abdicate in a rare video message last year. — dpa