Meet The Biglaw Associate Who Just Married A Japanese Princess
And she just turned down a royal dowry, worth a cool $1.4 million.
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Imagine emailing the junior associate on the other side of a deal you’re working on and getting this in response:
Date: October 26, 2021
Subject: Out of Office: Royal Wedding
Thank you for your message. I am currently in Tokyo, where I am marrying a Japanese princess.
If you need immediate assistance during my absence, please contact [x]. Otherwise I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.
Or make that former Princess Mako. Under Japanese law, Mako relinquished her royal title upon marrying a commoner like Komuro, and she is now a commoner herself. She has taken her husband’s name and will go by Mako Komuro going forward.
Theirs was far from a fairy-tale wedding, as reported by the New York Times:
The last time the sister of a future emperor of Japan got married, thousands of well-wishers lined the streets as the bride, Princess Sayako, left the palace to attend the ceremony and reception at one of Tokyo’s premier hotels.
But when Princess Mako, 30, a niece of the current emperor and an older sister of the likely future sovereign, married on Tuesday, there was just a simple trip to a registry office in Tokyo, handled by royal representatives.
The lack of pomp and circumstance might reflect the negative reaction of some members of the Japanese public to the union. In fact, instead of getting thronged by well-wishers, the Komuros were met with public protests on their wedding day. Why? Per the Times:
Not long after the princess and Mr. Komuro announced their engagement four years ago, the public began to question her choice. Tabloids revealed that his mother had received 4 million yen, or about $36,000, from an ex-boyfriend whom she had not repaid, leading critics to suggest that Mr. Komuro was trying to marry into the imperial family for money or fame. Princess Mako’s father withheld approval of the marriage, citing the curdled public opinion.
As a first-year in the New York office of Lowenstein Sandler, Komuro is earning around $205,000, so he’s doing just fine for himself. Regarding the alleged loan, Komuro and his mother claim it was a gift (and Komuro offered a settlement to the ex-boyfriend to resolve the matter). But perhaps to allay these suspicions about Komuro, Mako turned down the $1.35 million royal dowry that she was entitled to as a woman leaving the Imperial family.
The loan to Komuro Kei’s mother, which some tabloids referred to as a “financial scandal,” wasn’t the only issue that some members of the Japanese public had with Komuro. There was also… his hair:
The paparazzi chased Mr. Komuro, 30, after he left for New York to attend Fordham Law School and tracked his shaggy hair and food truck habits. Savage attacks on social media left the princess suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
When Mr. Komuro returned to Japan late last month to quarantine before the marriage, the scrutiny grew even more frenzied, bordering on the absurd. The media and the public were shocked, simply shocked, by the fact that he arrived from New York sporting a ponytail.
I’m no fan of guys wearing ponytails—especially if they’re as good-looking as Kei Komuro, who cleaned up nicely for the couple’s post-wedding news conference—but all these criticisms strike me as petty and ridiculous. Komuro seems like a lovely young man who graduated from an excellent law school and now works at a top Biglaw firm; what’s not to like?
Specifically, Komuro earned his LL.M. from Fordham Law in 2019, graduating cum laude, then earned his J.D. from Fordham this year. He sat for the New York bar exam in July and is presumably waiting for his results (which would explain why his Lowenstein bio refers to him as a “law clerk”). And there’s also this honor, as reported by Karen Sloan of Reuters:
The same day as Komuro's Oct. 26 wedding, he will also be recognized by the New York State Bar Association’s Business Law Section as the winner of its annual writing competition for his article, “Compliance Problems in Website Accessibility and Implications for Entrepreneurs.”
The award comes with a $2,000 cash prize—not much compared to the seven-figure dowry that Mako just turned down, but maybe enough to cover the cost of Komuro’s pinstripe suit (for which he also received criticism from the tabloids, which favored solid black or navy).
Kei and Mako Komuro are expected to settle in New York, where he works for Lowenstein Sandler and she might find employment in New York’s art world. She has a master’s degree in art museum and gallery studies and five years of experience working at a museum in Tokyo, so she certainly has qualifications—and her connections as a former royal would surely appeal to a high-end art dealer or gallery.
It’s not every day that you see a personal connection between Biglaw and royalty.Prince Harry had an ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, who went on to work at Allen & Overy—but Davy was an ex, quickly forgotten after Meghan Markle came on the scene. One of the founders of the firm that is now DLA Piper, Sir Charles Lupton OBE, is a great great granduncle of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge—but that’s a pretty tenuous connection. (If you know of other Biglaw/royalty ties, please mention them in the comments.)
Congratulations and best wishes to Kei and Mako Komuro. Their lives in New York—as a junior associate at a large law firm, and the wife of a junior associate—won’t necessarily be easy. But in light of what the Komuros have been through over the past few years, they should experience royal relief.
UPDATE (1:59 p.m.): A reader advises as follows:
Komuro isn’t the first Biglaw lawyer to marry into royalty—he’s not even the first Biglaw lawyer to marry into the Japanese royal family.
Masahisa Ikeda, a partner at Shearman & Sterling—who is a SUPER nice guy and great lawyer—married Reiko Owaka back in 2000. Reiko is a younger sister of Masako Owada, the then-princess and now Empress.
Also, fwiw, the Japanese press has been horrible to Komuro. They are worse than the British press sometimes. They were horrible to Masako as well.
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Thanks to Sean Marotta for alerting me to this story:
I did reach out to Kei Komuro at his Lowenstein Sandler email address with a request for an interview, but I have not yet heard back from him. If I do hear back and he agrees to an interview, you’ll read about it in these pages.
And no, I didn’t receive an out-of-office message from Komuro. Thanks to Greg Chernack for raising that issue, though:
In case you’re wondering about pronunciation, “Mako” appears to be pronounced MA-koh, “Komuro” is pronounced fairly phonetically, and “Kei” is pronounced like the letter “k” (at least according to this English-language segment from Nippon TV).