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News Navigator: What's the payment given to departing female Imperial Family members?

Princess Mako, right, and Kei Komuro are seen at a press conference in this photo taken on Sept. 3, 2017, following their informal engagement. (Pool photo)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the lump-sum payment to be made to Princess Mako upon her marriage, which she reportedly intends to decline.

    Question: Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, is reportedly set to marry. She apparently intends to decline a lump-sum allowance to be paid to her upon her marriage. What is the payment?

    Answer: The Imperial House Act stipulates: "In the case a female of the Imperial Family marries a person other than the Emperor or a member of the Imperial Family, she shall lose the status of an Imperial Family member." If a female Imperial Family member weds a commoner and leaves the household, the lump-sum is paid from state coffers under Imperial Household Finance Act stipulations. It is intended to allow the former family member to devote the funds to "maintaining their dignity" even after leaving the Imperial Family.

    Q: How much is the lump-sum payment set at?

    A: The exact amount is finalized at the Imperial Household Economy Council, with a certain cap set. According to the Imperial Household Finance Act and other rules, Princess Mako, 29, would receive 152.5 million yen (about $1.39 million), the same amount offered to Sayako Kuroda, 52, when she wed in 2005. Kuroda is the only daughter of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.

    When Noriko Senge, 33, second daughter of the late Prince Takamado, tied the knot in 2014, the lump-sum payment was capped at 106.75 million yen (about $970,000). This was also the case for her younger sister Ayako Moriya, 30, who married in 2018.

    The difference between the sums are due to their differing status, with Kuroda and Princess Mako the child and grandchild of the Emperor Emeritus, respectively, and thereby called "Naishinno" (Princess) in Japanese, while Senge and Moriya are great-grandchildren of Emperor Taisho (1879-1926), and thus referred to as "Jo-o" (Princess).

    Q: Do they receive the full possible lump-sum allowances?

    A: Kuroda, Senge and Moriya received the full amounts. Therefore, there are calls for Princess Mako to be entitled to the same amount Kuroda was. But a senior Imperial Household Agency official has pointed out: "The sum could differ between the daughter and granddaughter of the (former) Emperor."

    When the late Prince Mikasa's two daughters married, they each received 90% of the capped amount. The elder daughter, now 77, and the younger daughter, 69, are granddaughters of Emperor Taisho. Prince Mikasa passed away aged 100 in 2016. Based on this, there are views that Princess Mako could also be entitled to 90% of the cap, or 137.25 million yen (about $1.25 million).

    Q: So why is Princess Mako suggesting she will decline the payment?

    A: While Princess Mako is informally engaged to Kei Komuro, 29, there have been reports of a financial dispute between Komuro's mother and her former fiance. Individuals connected to the Imperial Household Agency speculate that Princess Mako is paying consideration to the not inconsiderable volume of public opinion critical of and negative toward her marriage to Komuro. The Imperial Household Agency will consider whether it is technically possible for her to refuse the payment.

    (Japanese original by Takeshi Wada, Tokyo City News Department)

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