Japanese Princess Renounces Royal Title for Love
Japanese Princess Ayako married on Monday October 29, giving up her royal status as member of the imperial family. The groom, Kei Moriya, is a 32-year-old employee of the shipping company Nippon Yusen KK.
Upon interviewers’ request, Kei Moriya commented that his bride looked “beautiful” and that he “would like to support her firmly and, hand in hand, build a happy family with lots of laughter.”
According to Japan’s imperial law, women of the Japanese royal family are expected to forfeit their status of nobility if they choose to marry men with no royal or aristocratic ties. Back in 2014, Princess Ayako’s elder sister ex-Princess Noriko made the same choice, giving up her royal status to marry a commoner. This obligation, however, does not apply to their male counterparts.
The shinto-style wedding took place in the Meiji Jingu shrine, a popular wedding spot in the tranquil Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, dedicated to the spirit of Princess Ayako’s great great-grandfather, Emperor Meiji. Multiple symbolic elements were featured in the ceremony. Dressed in a ceremonial light-yellow colored uchiki kimono and carrying a hiougi fan made of cypress wood, the bride partook in a traditional wedding filled with rituals such as the presenting of the sacred Tamagushi branch.
In light of this latest marriage however, questions regarding the Emperor’s succession begin to emerge.
After Japan’s beloved Emperor Akihito announced his abdication, scheduled for the upcoming April 30, the Chrysanthemum Throne is to be passed down to the heir next in line, his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
The decision to only allow Naruhito to receive the grand title of Emperor of one of the World’s most ancient monarchies has been questioned by many, as all other female successors have been denied. The possibility of permitting a female heir to inherit this responsibility has been ruled out several times, for the Japanese government appears reluctant to breach its ancient traditions.
Rather than following the British Monarchy’s example, wherein the British parliament approved the progressive modifications granting equal succession rights to royal daughters and sons, Japan’s royalty chooses to maintain its patriarchal structure.
In addressing this larger issue, Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Japan Temple University, remarked, “The law will change only if it absolutely must.” Kingston criticizes the country’s insistence on outdated succession rules, rather than adapting to surrounding progress involving gender equality.
With the Emperor’s abdication and the numerous female successors’ opting for marriage, the Japanese monarchy is shrinking at an increasingly alarming pace. Ultimately, if the country continues to resist any reform on its archaic traditions, the royalty is at risk of disappearing.