Reporters in Japan, the US, and the UK are distraught. According to them, Japanese lawyer Komuro Kei and his wife, Mako – a member of Japan’s imperial family – have “gone missing.” Looking back on how the press has treated the couple, who can blame them?
Komuro Mako – a.k.a. former Royal Princess Akishinonomiya Mako – met Komuro Kei at college. At some point, the two developed a relationship and began dating. In 2018, they made waves in Japan when they held a press conference announcing their intention to get married.
The marriage immediately became a big to-do. First, because it meant that, thanks to current laws, Mako would have to leave the imperial family in order to marry someone outside of the royal bloodline. But second, a prying media discovered that an ex-fiancee of Kei’s mother claimed the family owed him tens of thousands of dollars. The man claimed he supported Kei through school and that he deserved that money back.
Upon leaving the royal family, Mako would receive a payout to help her “retain her station” in life. The media speculated that they might use this taxpayer-supplied money to wipe out the Komuro family’s private debt. The ensuing controversy delayed the couple’s marriage by several years.
The media circus didn’t end after the Komuros moved to New York City. Kei took a job there with a local law firm. Mako, who has a Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, was considering either looking for work or finishing her doctorate.
But pursuing your ambitions is hard when the press is on your ass. Kei took several attempts to pass the NY State Bar Exam, with the press seemingly reveling in each failed attempt. Paparazzi regularly staked out the couple’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, despite both now being private citizens.
(The Japanese media typically respects the privacy of 一般人, ippanjin, or “regular citizens”, married to celebrities. But that’s usually because the celebrity agencies will punish them with restriction of access if they fail to comply. Since the Komuros aren’t celebrities in that sense, the press seems to think they’re fair game.)
Gone Girl (and Boy)
This week, the media found a new “controversy” they could use to put the couple back in the news.
The news was: there was no news. More to the point, the press couldn’t get so much as a single telephoto lens shot of the couple because no one had seen them in weeks.
According to Gendai Media, the couple haven’t been seen near their apartment for a while. The lease was originally for 11 months, which supposedly ended in November.
However, they also don’t appear to be preparing to move into the $1.3 million house they bought in the New York City suburbs. (Being an ex-princess has its privileges.) And the place appears only lightly renovated since they bought it.
Komuro Kei also hasn’t been seen at his law firm, Lowenstein Sandler, in weeks. However, he’s still listed as an Associate on their Web site. Gendai says he may have accepted a transfer to the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
This has led the Japanese press to report that the couple are “missing”. The headlines use the same word for missing – 行方不明, yukuefumei – that one would use for a missing person. This has garnered derision on social media. As one poster on X put it, “By that definition, my first ex-gf, my grade-school best friend, & my former teacher are all ‘missing’.”
It’s apparent that the couple doesn’t want to be found. After years of press hounding, they’re likely enjoying a few weeks away from the media spotlight. At least a portion of the Japanese public hopes it stays that way. As one social media user, Shinohara Shuji, put it:
“An article titled ‘Komuro Kei’s gone missing!’ is trending but if you look closely, you’ll see the press just doesn’t know where they moved. Your lack of brain power doesn’t translate to ‘missing.’ Stop looking for them.”
I doubt the press will heed this wise advice. They’ll keep digging until they find the “missing” couple so that they can resume their long-distance paparazzi snaps and monthly hazing in earnest.
Which is a shame. It’d be wonderful if the Komuros could live out the rest of their lives as a normal, private couple, as they seem intent on doing. Sadly, the media seems intent on taking that from them.
小室圭さん・眞子さん夫妻が「行方不明」に…「2億円豪邸」も放置されたまま. Gendai Media