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Japan’s former princess Mako Komuro lands volunteer gig in New York City, reports say

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Japan’s former princess has a new title.

Mako Komuro, who married her college boyfriend and moved to New York City last fall, is reportedly assisting curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The 30-year-old is working as an unpaid volunteer for the museum’s Asian art collection, Japan Times reported on Tuesday. According to the outlet, Komuro has been involved with preparing an exhibition of paintings inspired by the life of a 13th-century monk who traveled throughout Japan as he introduced Buddhism.

Komuro graduated from Tokyo’s International Christian University with a degree in art and cultural heritage. She studied art history at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh and received her master’s in art museum and gallery studies in 2016 at the University of Leicester.

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Mako Komuro removes her face mask for face recognition upon departure at Haneda Airport on November 14, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The former princess now resides in New York City with her husband.

Mako Komuro removes her face mask for face recognition upon departure at Haneda Airport on November 14, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The former princess now resides in New York City with her husband.
(Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images)

Komuro met her husband, a paralegal at a New York law firm, at International Christian University. They became engaged in 2013. The couple announced their plans to marry in September 2017, but the wedding was postponed due to a financial dispute involving Kei’s mother. Kyodo news service announced the issue was recently settled.

The couple said “I do” last October. They did so without the usual royal celebratory rituals.

Although Japan appears modern in many ways, values about family relations and the status of women often are seen as somewhat antiquated, rooted in feudal practices. Such views were accentuated in the public’s reaction to the marriage. Some Japanese feel they have a say in such matters because taxpayer money supports the imperial family system.

Other princesses have married commoners and left the palace. But Komuro is the first to have drawn such a public outcry, including a frenzied reaction on social media and in local tabloids.

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Princess Mako married Kei Komuro at a registry office following a relationship beset with controversy following the revelation that Mr. Komuro’s mother was embroiled in a financial dispute with a former fiancé. Following the wedding, Mako renounced her royal entitlements and moved with Komuro to New York.

Princess Mako married Kei Komuro at a registry office following a relationship beset with controversy following the revelation that Mr. Komuro’s mother was embroiled in a financial dispute with a former fiancé. Following the wedding, Mako renounced her royal entitlements and moved with Komuro to New York.
(Nicolas DaticheGetty Images)

Speculation ranged from whether the couple could afford to live in Manhattan to how much money Kei, 30, would earn and if the former princess would end up financially supporting her husband.

Komuro is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, who also married a commoner, Masako. Masako often suffered mentally in the cloistered, regulated life of the imperial family. The negative media coverage surrounding Komuro’s marriage gave her what palace doctors described last month as a form of traumatic stress disorder.

Former Emperor Akihito, the father of the current emperor, was the first member of the imperial family to marry a commoner. His father was the emperor under whom Japan fought in World War II.

Komuro’s loss of royal status came from the Imperial House Law, which allows only male succession. Only male royals have household names, while female imperial family members have only titles and must leave if they marry commoners.

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Japan's Princess Mako attends the enthronement ceremony where Emperor Naruhito officially proclaimed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace on Oct. 22, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan.

Japan’s Princess Mako attends the enthronement ceremony where Emperor Naruhito officially proclaimed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace on Oct. 22, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan.
(Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/Getty Images)

The former princess turned down a $1.3 million payout that is traditionally paid to royal women who lose their status when they marry.

In announcing their marriage, the former princess made her choice clear.

“He is someone I cannot do without,” she said. “Marriage is that decision needed for us to live on, staying true to our hearts.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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