Japanese Princess Ayako renounces royal status to marry a ‘commoner’

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Princess Ayako has become Japan’s second princess in two years to announce she is marrying a commoner and renouncing her royal status.

Japanese Princess Ayako will renounce her royal status to marry businessman Kei Moriya in October.

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency made the announcement that the youngest daughter of the late Prince Takamodo, who was cousin of Emperor Akihito, is engaged to the 32-year-old employee of shipping firm NYK Line.

Marriage to a non-royal requires the princess to give up her royal status under Japanese imperial law, but the match has the family’s support.

Princess Ayako’s mother, Princess Hisako, made the introduction between her daughter and Kei Moriya last December, according to the Imperial Household.

It was in the course of her children’s charity work that Princess Ayako’s mother met Kei’s parents.

She had hoped an introduction with Kei would spur the enthusiasm of Ayako, a masters graduate in social welfare, for global humanitarian issues.

Kei is a board member on a non-for-profit group that offers educational opportunities for children in the developing world.

The pair also found a common passion for skiing, books and travel.

The engagement will be officially marked on August 12, with October 29 set as the wedding date.

The nuptials will take place at Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine.

Friends and family have voiced their well wishes.

“I was very surprised to hear the news. I want to send my congratulations to his family,” a 49-year-old relative of Kei told Japanese daily Mainichi.

A colleague of Kei said it is a good match.

“He is fluent in English and has a reputation as a very capable worker,” he told the newspaper. “He will be an earnest and good husband.”

Ayako’s imminent departure from the royal family follows a similar decision by her second cousin and eldest grandchild to the Emperor, Princess Mako.

Last May, Princess Mako announced her plans to wed paralegal Kei Komoro, but the pair have postponed the marriage to 2020, saying they are not yet ready to tie the knot.

The developments and the abdication plans of Emperor Akihito for 2019 have spurred discussions on the future of the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy.

Under Imperial House Law, only male members of the royal family can succeed the Imperial Throne.

There is currently only one unmarried male – 11-year-old Prince Hisahito.

Legislation has been introduced last June on succession issues, including a proposal to allow new branches of the royal family to be created when princesses marry a commoner, such that the new members can assume some of the duties of the imperial family.

The number of members of the imperial family will be reduced to 17, with the marriages of Ayako and Mako.

Source: SBS News

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