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Slander that pushed ex-princess into C-PTSD continues even after diagnosis announcement

Then Princess Mako leaves the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo's Minato Ward on Oct. 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Kota Yoshida)

TOKYO -- Online slander and critical media coverage of the marriage of former Princess Mako to college sweetheart Kei Komuro, both 30, has persisted even after the announcement of her complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) diagnosis.

    Former Princess Mako, eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino (Fumihito) and niece of Emperor Naruhito, married Komuro on the morning of Oct. 26. Despite her condition reportedly being brought on by continuous exposure to what she feels is slander and attack, abusive online comments continue to be observed even now, including: "Please cancel this marriage already," "So naive," and "It's marriage fraud." Some online have even accused her of feigning her condition, claiming she is "malingering."

    The doctor who examined then Princess Mako, now Mako Komuro, said at the time of diagnosis, "If she is surrounded by warm support, it could be that her health recovers swiftly." However, her situation can hardly be said to be improving.

    An individual affiliated with the Imperial Household Agency said, "Even after her condition was announced, weekly magazine reporting's critical tone has barely changed. We're worried it may affect her recovery."

    Mako reportedly started to feel her "human dignity was being infringed" around 2018 and 2019, but her C-PTSD was not disclosed because it did not affect official duties. The then princess is also said to have preferred to withhold the information.

    A senior Imperial Household Agency official said they were shocked by news of the diagnosis, telling the Mainichi Shimbun, "Though I sensed she was suffering mentally, I had no idea she was that pressured."

    But among those questioning the timing of her condition's announcement is even a government-affiliated individual: "I can't shift the feeling it came abruptly. It can't be helped if it's viewed as declaration of something like, 'My marriage is settled, please leave me alone.' Though it was in line with her wishes, I think the announcement could have come a bit earlier."

    Complex-PTSD was a new addition for the World Health Organization's 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in 2018.

    PTSD is triggered by a temporary event where one experiences strong fear, such as a disaster, a crime or an accident. C-PTSD meanwhile involves "a combination of multiple symptoms that occur when subjected to repetitive instances of undergoing great psychological trauma over a long period of time," according to Toshiro Sugiyama, visiting professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Fukui's Research Center for Child Mental Development. Child abuse and long-term domestic violence are representative examples of C-PTSD causes.

    Sugiyama said that in addition to PTSD symptoms such as vivid flashbacks of painful memories, C-PTSD patients experience difficulty controlling emotions, feelings of worthlessness and shame, and relationship difficulties.

    While symptoms differ by individual, Sugiyama said that generally "there are many cases where C-PTSD greatly interferes with daily life, and a special type of psychotherapy is required to treat it." He emphasized, "The symptoms are serious, and typically, full recovery takes several years."

    The Imperial Household Agency has repeatedly said that then Princess Mako had no issues making reasonable judgments, and that her official duties were not hindered. In fact, she has continued to engage in official duties smoothly.

    Meanwhile, parties close to Mako felt that if the situation had continued she would no longer be able to mentally endure it. This seems to have been one factor behind the couple's marriage being approved after a period of continuous postponements.

    An aide has commented that there are no updates in particular to be made regarding her current health.

    (Japanese original by Kanami Ikawa, Tokyo City News Department)

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