Husband of Japan's former Princess Mako passes his bar exam

Third time lucky! Kei Komuro, husband of Japan’s former Princess Mako, finally passes his New York bar exam – after failing his first two attempts

  • Komuro, 30, has passed his New York bar exam on the third attempt this week
  • Komuro graduated from Fordham University’s law school in May 2021 
  • Japan’s former Princess Mako of Akishino gave up her royal title to marry him 
  • Komura has taken the bar exam twice before and failed – last July and in February

Kei Komuro — the commoner husband of Japan’s former Princess Mako of Akishino — has passed the New York bar exam, defying detractors back home who had criticized their romance. 

The 30-year-old, who failed the exam twice over the past 18 months, was spotted leaving the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City on Tuesday after sitting for the first half of the two-day exam. 

His name was on the list of those who passed the July New York state bar exam, which was posted Friday on The New York State Board of Law Examiners web site.

Komuro’s engagement to former Princess Mako, announced in 2017, prompted a widespread public outcry, mostly on social media and in the tabloids. One reason was a financial problem of Komuro´s mother, although that´s since been resolved.

Kei Komuro — the commoner husband of Japan ‘s former Princess Mako of Akishino — has passed the New York bar exam, defying detractors back home who had criticized their romance

Last week, Komuro was dressed in a rumpled gingham button-down shirt that he wore untucked over hunter-green shorts and black athletic sneakers as he took the exam in New York. 

Komuro, a graduate of Fordham University law school, has a job at a New York law firm, and has been living in New York with Mako, a museum curator. 

Komura first sat for the New York State bar exam last July, three months before his wedding to Mako, but it was revealed in November that he had failed. 

According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, he phoned Okuno Yoshihiko — the head of a law firm in Japan where he previously worked — to tell him he didn’t pass. 

Last week, Komuro was dressed in a rumpled gingham button-down shirt that he wore untucked over hunter-green shorts and black athletic sneakers as he took the exam in New York

He sat for the exam for the second time in February, but when the results were published online in April, his name was not included among those who had passed. 

New York does not place a limit or restriction on the number of times a person may attempt to pass the exam, which is only offered twice a year, meaning he can take it as many times as he wants. 

John F. Kennedy Jr. — the only son of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy — famously failed the New York State bar exam twice before passing on his third try. 

Komuro previously worked at a bank and at a French restaurant in Japan before relocating to New York for law school.

Speculation has now moved to how much money Komuro might be earning as a lawyer, instead of when he might be getting fired.

Komuro, a graduate of Fordham University law school, has a job at a New York law firm and was dressed in a relaxed pair of shorts and rumpled shirt for the exam  

Reports said Komuro´s shaky standing will improve with the imperial family, the couple may move from Hell´s Kitchen in Manhattan to a ritzier neighborhood, and Komuro´s mom may move in with them.

Local media say the couple are like Romeo and Juliet, and have used the Japanese equivalent of the phrase: ‘the third time is the charm.’

It´s common for people to pass after multiple attempts. Of the 9,609 candidates for the latest exam, the passing rate was 66% at 6,350 people, including Komuro.

He met Mako in 2013 when they were both studying at the International Christian University outside Tokyo. The couple got ‘unofficially engaged’ in 2017 and had planned on tying the knot in November 2018.

Komuro was swarmed by reporters as he tried to find his Uber ride on the busy street

Initially, the news was greeted with delight in Japan, but then a scandal grew up when it was discovered that his mother, Kayo, had not repaid a 4 million yen ($35,000) loan from a former fiancé, partly to pay his tuition.

The controversy led critics to suggest Komuro was only marrying the princess for money or fame. 

Komuro issued a 24-page statement about the money, claiming his mother believed it was a gift, not a loan. Eventually, he said he would repay it, though it is not known whether it has ever been returned.

Despite the turmoil, Komuro and Mako’s love endured, and she announced that she was moving forward with the marriage in 2020. 

She gave up her royal status last year when she married Komuro. All Japanese princesses relinquish their royal status upon marriage, as there is only male succession in the Japanese imperial family. 

Mako can no longer live in the Imperial Palace, and if she and Komuro have sons, they will not be in the line of succession for the male-only emperorship. She can never return to the dynasty, even if her marriage ends in divorce. 

Komuro and Mako were seen enjoying a stroll last month in New York City, where they have been living since they got married 

Mako (pictured in April) has reportedly been making use of her background in art history by serving as an unpaid volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Other princesses have married commoners and left the palace. But the reaction to Komuro and Mako was especially frenzied, much of it focusing on whether he would be able to support his wife.

Mako, who turns 31 Sunday, is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, who also married a commoner, Masako. Masako, a Harvard graduate, suffered depression in the cloistered imperial life.

Former Emperor Akihito, Naruhito´s father, was the first member of the imperial family to marry a commoner.

The family holds no political power but serves as a symbol of the nation, attending ceremonial events and visiting disaster zones.

Mako (pictured at Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony in 2019) had to give up her titles because only male members of the imperial family are allowed to marry non-royals

When Komuro returned from the U.S. last year to marry Mako, they were reunited for the first time in three years.

Mako said then: ‘He is someone I cannot do without.’

Komuro echoed her devotion: ‘I want to live the only life I have with the person I love.’

Mako and her husband have kept a low profile while living in a luxury one-bedroom apartment in the city, and they are believed to be financially independent. 

The former princess was entitled to a $1.3 million payout from the Japanese government after giving up her noble status, but she turned it down. 

Mako left her home at the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo on October 26 last year (pictured), and she arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York a few weeks later on November 14 

Mako has reportedly been making use of her background in art history by serving as an unpaid volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

‘She has specifically been involved in preparing an exhibition of paintings inspired by the life of a 13th-century monk who traveled throughout Japan as he introduced Buddhism,’ according to the Japan Times. 

Mako has a degree in art and cultural heritage from International Christian University in Japan, where she met her husband. 

She went on to study art history at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland before receiving her master’s in art museum and gallery studies from the University of Leicester in England. 

‘She’s qualified and probably handling pieces in the collection. In general, it’s work which requires a great deal of preparation and often means spending a lot of time in the library,’ a former curator at the Met told People.

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