Japanese Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, will marry a former classmate, heating up debate on the shrinking royal family since she must become a commoner after marriage.
Japan’s cabinet is expected to approve this week to allow Akihito to step down – the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two centuries. But the legislation will make no reference to the controversial top of allowing women to stay in the imperial family after marriage, a move conservatives fear would be the first step to letting women inherit the throne.
Mako’s unofficial fiance, Kei Komuru, appeared before media this week, a day after the news of their engagement broke. “Now is not the time for me to commit,” he told reporters. “But I want to speak at the right time.”
There are only four current heirs to the throne – Akhito’s two middle-aged sons, whose wives are in their early 50s, Akhito’s brother and Prince Hishaito, the 10-year-old son of Akhito’s younger son.