Japan's Princess Mako to marry ocean-loving legal assistant

FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2011, file photo, Japan's Princess Mako stands on a bulletproofed balcony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to greet well-wishers who throng to the palace compound to celebrate Emperor Akihito's 78th birthday. Mako, the granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, is getting married to an ocean lover who can ski, play the violin and cook, according to public broadcaster NHK TV. The Imperial Household Agency declined to confirm the report Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2011, file photo, Japan's Prince Hisahito, wearing a traditional ceremonial attire, is accompanied by his parents, Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko, his sisters Princess Mako, left, and Princess Kako, right, after attending "Chakko-no-gi" ceremony to celebrate his growth and the passage from infancy to childhood, at the Akasaka imperial estate in Tokyo. Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, is getting married to an ocean lover who can ski, play the violin and cook, according to public broadcaster NHK TV. The Imperial Household Agency declined to confirm the report Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Issei Kato, Pool, File)
Kei Komuro, center, is interviewed by reporters in Tokyo Wednesday, May 17 2017. Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan's emperor, is getting married to the ocean lover who can ski, play the violin and cook, according to public broadcaster NHK TV. Komuro, the man who won the princess' heart, was a fellow student at International Christian University in Tokyo, where Mako, 25, also graduated, NHK said. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News via AP)
Journalists gather in front of the gate of Akasaka Estate where the residence of Prince Akishino is located in Tokyo after the news that the prince's daughter is getting married to an ocean lover was reported Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan's emperor, is getting married to Kei Komuro who can ski, play the violin and cook, according to public broadcaster NHK TV. Komuro, the man who won the princess' heart, was a fellow student at International Christian University in Tokyo, where Mako, 25, also graduated, NHK said. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News via AP)
Kei Komuro, who described himself as working as a legal assistant, is interviewed by reporters in Tokyo Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan's emperor, is getting married to the ocean lover who can ski, play the violin and cook, according to public broadcaster NHK TV. Komuro, the man who won the princess' heart, was a fellow student at International Christian University in Tokyo, where Mako, 25, also graduated, NHK said. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News via AP)
Passersby watch a TV news reporting that Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan's emperor, is getting married to Kei Komuro, in Tokyo Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Komuro, the man who won the princess' heart, was a fellow student at International Christian University in Tokyo, where Mako, 25, also graduated, public broadcaster NHK TV said. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Princess Mako, the granddaughter of Japan's emperor, will marry an ocean-loving legal assistant who can ski, play the violin and cook.

Japanese nuptials tend to be highly ritualized, especially for a royal family member, and the buildup to the wedding is likely to take time. A public announcement would come first, then a wedding date would be set and then the couple will make a formal report to the emperor and empress.

Quasi-public NHK TV reported the news late Tuesday and the Imperial Household Agency confirmed the report to Japanese media who belong to an exclusive "press club" system. But the agency declined comment to The Associated Press.

The man who won the princess' heart spoke to reporters Wednesday, and his comments dominated national TV coverage though he gave few details.

Kei Komuro said he works as a legal assistant and had just spoken over the phone with Mako, who had been a fellow student at International Christian University in Tokyo.

"When the right time comes, I'd like to talk about it," he told reporters, bowing repeatedly, wearing a suit and tie.

The couple, who are both 25, met at a restaurant in Tokyo's Shibuya about five years ago at a party to talk about studying abroad, and they have been dating several times a month recently, NHK said.

Komuro was once tapped as "Prince of the Sea" to promote tourism to the beaches of Shonan in Kanagawa prefecture, a facet of his profile highlighted by local media.

Women can't succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Mako's father and her younger brother are in line to succeed Emperor Akihito, but after her uncle Crown Prince Naruhito, who is first in line.

Once she marries, Mako will no longer be a princess and will become a commoner.

NHK said Mako has already introduced Komuro to her parents, and they approve. A formal announcement could come as soon as next month, Japanese media said.

Unlike royalty in Great Britain and other European countries, the emperor and his family tend to be cloistered, although they travel abroad and appear at cultural events.

Akihito, 83, is the son of Hirohito, Japan's emperor during World War II.

Akihito expressed his desire to abdicate last year, and Japan has been preparing legislation especially for him so he can.

Until Japan's defeat at the end of World War II, Hirohito was viewed as divine, and no one had even heard his voice. But the times are changing, and the Japanese public harbors a feeling of openness and familiarity toward the emperor and his family. People are likely to see Mako's marriage as a celebration, although the rituals will continue to be tightly orchestrated.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama

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This story has been corrected to show the princess's name is Mako.

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