I come bearing bad news for the small number of people who count themselves as genuine well wishers of the thinking man’s quasi-royal couple — Japan’s Princess Mako (Emperor Naruhito’s niece) and her regular-guy husband Kei Komuro, who married on October 26.
Their path to marriage, if you recall from a blog post I wrote in September, has been marked by hardship, including but not limited to media scrutiny, public disapproval, and Mako — in light of the controversy surrounding their relationship — choosing to forgo the 140 million yen ($1.23 million) payment that is typically given to royals who abdicate their titles and leave the family. As if all that weren’t enough to deal with, here’s one more blow to add to the pile: Komuro, a Fordham University law school graduate and aspiring lawyer, failed the New York state bar exam.
Komuro’s name wasn’t on the exam organizer’s list of people who successfully passed the bar, according to Kyodo News. NHK reports that, over the weekend, Komuro called the head of a Japanese law firm where he once worked and said that he had failed to pass and will be taking the exam again in February.
There’s no way around this: the optics are humiliating. Especially after Mako gave up her royal status to be with Komuro — as dictated by Japanese law that requires female members of the imperial family to forfeit their titles if they marry outside nobility — who is not only a commoner, but one who has been mired in scandal because of a messy financial dispute involving his mother and a $35,000 loan she hadn’t paid back to a former fiancé.
But let’s allow the newlyweds some grace. Only 63 percent of candidates passed the New York bar this year, which is… okay, a higher percentage than I would have expected, but still, I’m sure Komuro had lots of other things taking his mind away from studying. You try cramming legalese when Japanese tabloids are making fun of your ponytail and people are literally marching on the street to protest your relationship, all while worrying about your sweetheart, who was diagnosed with PTSD from all the hubbub plaguing your engagement. Or maybe Komuro was stressing over money, which he probably never thought would be an issue, marrying a princess and all, but now he has to support his wife and start repaying that big loan, and 140 million yen could come in real handy.
Luckily, Komuro already has a job as a law clerk at a firm in New York, and the couple are preparing to leave all this public mess behind and permanently move to the Big Apple any day now. Hang in there and keep studying, MaKomuro (a couple name I just made up). It gets better.