Another Japanese Princess To Lose Royal Status To Marry A Commoner

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Princess Ayako met Kei Moriya, a 32-year-old employee of shipping firm NYK Line, less than a year ago. They are set to be engaged on Aug. 12.

Japanese Princess

Last year, Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, made international headlines after announcing her intention to give up her royal status to marry a commoner.

This month, another member of the Japanese royal family made the same decision.

Princess Ayako, 27, who is the third and the youngest daughter of the late Prince Takamodo, cousin of current Emperor Akihito, will marry Kei Moriya, according to Japan's Imperial Household Agency.

Ayako earned a master's degree in social welfare in 2016. Moriya, 32, is an employee of shipping firm NYK Line.

So, how did the two meet?

It all started with the Tokyo-based nonprofit Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (KnK), which translates to Children Without Borders. Moriya’s late mother, who was a long-time friend of Ayako's mother, Princess Hisako, had served as the executive board member of the organization.

Less than a year ago, Hisako introduced Ayako to Moriya, hoping her daughter might become interested in welfare activities for children across the world.

However, it seems the pair discovered they had a lot more in common than just social activism and announced their engagement to the public on June 26.

In order to marry a commoner, the princess will be required to leave the family, under Japanese law. This essentially means she will have to give up her royal status.

Just like Princess Mako, Ayako's decision to marry outside the royal family has stirred debate over the fate of the oldest continuous monarchy in the world.

Women can’t ascend the Japanese throne and Emperor Akihito plans to abdicate in 2019. Mako's announcement to leave the monarchy led Japan to mull, yet again, female succession to the Chrysanthemum throne.

Mako and Ayako's exits will shrink the royal family to 17 members, 12 of whom are women. There are only four contender heirs to the throne: the emperor’s 81-year-old brother, Prince Masahito, the empero's elder son, 58-year-old Naruhito, his younger, 52-year-old brother Akishino and his son, 10-year-old prince Hisahito, who became first male heir born to the Imperial family in nearly 40 years in 2006.

The dilemma, last June, prompted a resolution, which was attached to the emperor's abdication bill. It  called for a “stable Imperial succession, including creating female branches." However, there has been no update on that part for a year.

It is expected Ayako's intention to marry Moriya will renew debate over the resolution.

They are set to be engaged on Aug. 12 and their wedding will take place on Oct. 29.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters

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