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Japan gov't to OK Princess Mako's decision to turn down lump-sum marriage money: sources

Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Crown Prince Akishino. (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- The Imperial Household Agency is set to finalize a decision not to pay a lump sum to Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and niece of Emperor Naruhito, upon her marriage in compliance with her wishes, sources close to the government have revealed.

    It will mark the first time since the end of World War II that the payment will not be made to a female Imperial Household member who is leaving the family upon marriage.

    Princess Mako, 29, is set to wed her former college classmate Kei Komuro, 29, and leave the Imperial Family. Under the Imperial House Law, if a female Imperial Family member weds a commoner, she loses her Imperial status, and a lump sum is paid under the Imperial Household Finance Act. This sum is intended to "maintain their dignity" even after leaving the family.

    In the case of Princess Mako, she would have been entitled to up to 152.5 million yen (about $1.38 million), the same amount granted to an emperor's children and grandchildren, called "Naishinno" (princess). Princess Mako is the granddaughter of Emperor Emeritus Akihito.

    The Imperial Household Finance Act does not provide for turning down the lump sum. However, Princess Mako had suggested she intended to decline the allowance after her marriage plan drew some criticism, due to a financial dispute between Komuro's mother and her former fiance, among other factors.

    Kei Komuro (Pool photo)

    According to sources close to the situation, in response to Princess Mako's desires, government bodies including the Imperial Household Agency and the Cabinet Legislation Bureau examined various interpretations of the law, and concluded it was technically possible for her to decline the allowance.

    The exact amount of the lump sum is normally finalized at the Imperial Household Economy Council chaired by the prime minister. But the government is expected to forgo this step as the council is not supposed to be a venue for debating the pros and cons of making the payment.

    Komuro is scheduled to return to Japan as early as the afternoon of Sept. 27 from the United States, where he has been studying. The Imperial Household Agency plans to formally announce Princess Mako's marriage to Komuro before too long. The couple will file their marriage registration by the end of October at the earliest.

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

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