Mako and Kei Komuro, both 30, first met when they were students at the International Christian University at a study-abroad event held at a restaurant in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.

Mako previously told The Telegraph that, “First, I was attracted by his bright smile.” Komuro proposed in December 2013 and the couple continued to have a long-distance relationship while Mako worked towards her master’s degree in Art Museum and Gallery Studies at Leicester University in England.

Princess Mako, the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and her fiancee Kei Komuro, a university friend of Princess Mako, smile during a press conference to announce their engagement at Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Shizuo Kambayashi/Pool

She graduated in 2016, and the following year she and Komuro held a press conference with Japanese media to discuss their plans to wed, a ceremony which was scheduled to take place in November 2018, a move cheered by the country.

However, things soon turned sour as tabloids reported on a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn on him.

That February, Imperial Household announced the marriage would be postponed until 2020 with Mako citing “immaturity” as the cause for the delay.

Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Kiko and Princess Kako wave to Princess Mako leaving her home for her marriage in Akasaka Estate in Tokyo, Japan October 26, 2021 in this photo taken by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS

The marriage was postponed, and he left Japan for law studies in New York in 2018 only to return in September.

Their marriage consisted of an official from Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, submitting paperwork to a local office in the morning, foregoing the numerous rituals and ceremonies usual to royal weddings, including a reception.

Mako also refused to receive a one-off payment of about $1.3 million typically made to royal women who marry commoners and become ordinary citizens, in line with Japanese law.

Television footage showed Mako, wearing a pastel dress and pearls, saying goodbye to her parents and 26-year-old sister, Kako, at the entrance to their home. Though all wore masks in line with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen blinking rapidly, as if to fight off tears.

Though Mako bowed formally to her parents, her sister grabbed her shoulders and the two shared a long embrace.

Japan’s Princess Mako hugs her sister Princess Kako and they are watched by her parents, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, before leaving her home for her marriage in Akasaka Estate in Tokyo, Japan October 26, 2021 in this photo taken by Kyodo. Kyodo/via REUTERS

In the afternoon, Mako and her new husband will hold a news conference, which will also depart from custom. While royals typically answer pre-submitted questions at such events, the couple will make a brief statement and hand out written replies to the questions instead.

Some of the questions took mistaken information as fact and upset the princess,” said officials at the IHA, according to NHK public television.

Komuro, dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, bowed briefly to camera crews gathered outside his home as he left in the morning but said nothing. His casual demeanour on returning to Japan, including long hair tied back in a ponytail, had sent tabloids into a frenzy.

Just months after the two announced their engagement at a news conference where their smiles won the hearts of the nation, tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance, as the man claimed mother and son had not repaid a debt of about $35,000.

The scandal spread to mainstream media after the IHA failed to provide a clear explanation. In 2021, Komuro issued a 24-page statement on the matter and also said he would pay a settlement.

Japan’s Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, strolls at the garden of their Akasaka imperial property residence in Tokyo, Japan October 6, 2021, ahead of her 30th birthday on October 23, 2021 and her marriage on October 26, 2021, in this handout photo provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Mandatory credit Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout via REUTERS

Public opinion polls show the Japanese are divided about the marriage, and there has been at least one protest.

Analysts say the problem is that the imperial family is so idealised that not the slightest hint of trouble with things such as money or politics should touch them.

The fact that Mako’s father and younger brother, Hisahito, are both in the line of succession after Emperor Naruhito, whose daughter is ineligible to inherit, makes the scandal particularly damaging, said Hideya Kawanishi, an associate professor of history at Nagoya University.

Japan’s Princess Mako and her husband Kei Komuro deliver a speech during a news conference to announce their wedding at Grand Arc Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, October 26, 2021. Nicolas Datiche/Pool via REUTERS

He expressed;

Though it’s true they’ll both be private citizens, Mako’s younger brother will one day become emperor, so some people thought anybody with the problems he (Komuro) had shouldn’t be marrying her.

Japan’s Princess Mako and her husband Kei Komuro attend a news conference to announce their wedding at Grand Arc Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, October 26, 2021. Nicolas Datiche/Pool via REUTERS

The two will live in New York, though Mako will remain on her own in Tokyo for some time after the wedding to prepare for the move, including applying for the first passport of her life.

Via Reuters.

Japan’s central bank just appointed its first woman executive director in 138 years.

Tokiko Shimizu, a 55-year-old banker, was appointed as part of a sweeping reshuffle at the Bank of Japan, becoming one of a team of six executives responsible for running the central bank’s daily operations.

Women make up 47% of the central bank’s workforce but only 13% of senior managerial posts and just 20% of expert positions dealing with legal affairs, payment systems and bank notes, according to the bank’s own data.
Women have been represented on its policy board — the highest decision-making body responsible for setting monetary policy —since it was established in 1998. But only one of the board’s nine members is a woman, and the bank has never had a woman governor, unlike the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank.
Over the past decade, demographic challenges and the growing number of women in higher education has slowly begun to change Japan’s male-dominated management structures.
But while women account for 51% of the Japanese population, according to 2018 World Bank data, the country is ranked 121 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest global gender gap index.
The country also ranks at the bottom among the G7 countries for gender equality, according to the WEF, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to empower working women through a policy called “womenomics.”

Shimuzu started working for the Bank of Japan in 1987. She took up roles in the financial markets division and in foreign exchange operations, and was general manager for Europe and chief representative in London between 2016 and 2018.


Credit: CNN

A court ruled the father had sexually abused his child from around the age 13 to 19 and even acknowledged he was violent when she resisted, but he was acquitted because the law requires prosecutors to prove there was overwhelming force, a threat, or that the victim was completely incapacitated.

The verdict is being appealed, but it has sparked outrage with hundreds again expected to demonstrate in cities across the nation Wednesday, while an online petition demanding that any sex without consent be defined as rape — signed by more than 47,000 people — has been submitted to the justice ministry.

For Jun Yamamoto, who was abused by her father between the ages of 13 and 20, the story is sickening familiar.

“Again!… That was what I thought,” the 45-year-old said, adding: “Japanese justice does not recognise sexual offences like this as a crime. I cannot tolerate it anymore.”

The court acknowledged in the latest incest case that the girl had been forced to have intercourse “against her will” and was psychologically subjugated by her father because of the repeated abuse.

But it said it was unclear whether she was “incapable of resisting”, so her father was acquitted of rape.

No protection

Yamamoto, a nurse who also works for the rights of sexual abuse victims, is demanding reforms to the Japanese criminal code.

“When caught off guard or attacked by somebody who should be someone you can trust, you freeze in shock and cannot fight back,” Yamamoto told AFP.

“Even in a case where a father raped his daughter, the court says she could have resisted and lets him go. This legal situation is really a serious problem.” she said, her voice quivering with barely suppressed anger.

While the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse has stormed through everything from Hollywood to the Italian opera, it has struggled to take off in Japan.

But calls to protect sex abuse victims seem to be winning support, with hundreds expected to rally holding symbolic flowers in 20 cities nationwide on Wednesday.

In one past “Flower Demo” in Tokyo, advocates held banners reading: “Law MUST protect victims, NOT perpetrators”

“Why do we have to ask for this over and over again?” said a tearful protester on mic. “Are we asking for something so inconceivable?”

Activists and lawyers warn that Japan’s criminal code, which dates back over a century, is incapable of protecting sexual abuse victims.

“When the criminal code was created in 1907, Japan was purely patriarchal,” lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda explained.

“The purpose of criminalising rape was to assure a wife would bear a child only by her husband and never be accessed by other men… It was a law of chastity which would only benefit a husband or the father of a family,” she added.

“Who wants to protect a woman who so easily lets a rapist do his thing just after a few punches? That was the thinking.”

Many activists see the law as part of a broader gender problem in Japan, which, despite relatively high rates of female education and workplace participation, remains unequal in many ways.

Tsunoda said that sexist norms remain embedded in the legal system and systematically undermine women’s rights, which according to her explains why Japan is ranked 110th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap report.

Unsafe for women?

In 2017, Japan revised the criminal code on sexual offences for the first time in 110 years, recognising male victims, and increasing the punishment for rape from a minimum of three years to five.

But the requirement that a victim be able to prove they could not resist assault remained unchanged.

Tsunoda served on a justice ministry panel considering the reforms and urged the requirement be changed, but a majority disagreed, arguing that it could lead to innocent victims being convicted based on the “subjective” views of alleged victims.

A review will happen next year, but it is unclear whether the controversial rule will be up for discussion.

Yamamoto and fellow rights campaigners are hopeful the voices of tens of thousands of citizens who signed the petition will force legislators to reconsider.

“The petition to remove the requirements seems to be the most supported among the opinions we’ve received,” a justice ministry official told AFP, adding: “We take it very seriously.”

But until changes are made protestors say they will continue to rally across the country on the 11th of each month.

Demonstrator Wakana Goto, 28, told protestors at one rally: “In Japan, with its reputation as one of the world’s safest countries, I have been exposed to sexual harassment since the age of three, forced to get used to it and to learn to deal with it.”



Credit: AFP, Pulse News

At 101 years old, renowned Japanese photographer, Tsuneko Sasamoto continues to express her artistic voice and capture stunning images. Considered to be her country’s first photojournalist at the age of 25, Sasamoto has been documenting history for over 70 years, including pre- and post-war Japan. Her photographs highlighted the country’s dramatic shift from a totalitarian regime to an economic superpower, and the social implications that arose from it.


Sasamoto shooting in her 20s.


Sasamoto shooting at 97 years old.


Tsuneko Sasamoto on the cover of her book, Hyakusai no Finder.

Sasamoto remains enthusiastic about her profession, continuing to impact her chosen field. In 2011, at the age of 97, she published a photo book called Hyakusai no Finder, or Centenarian’s Finder. When she turned 100, she opened an exhibition of selected images.


Photo credit: Satoko Kawasaki

Now, Sasamoto is currently working on a project called Hana Akari, or Flower Glow, an homage to her friends who have passed away. She is completing this series despite breaking her left hand and both legs last year. Determined to not let it get the best of her, she has attended physical rehabilitation three times a week to get better. When speaking to NHK World shortly before her 100th birthday, Sasamoto offered sage advice.


Photo credit: Satoko Kawasaki

“You should never become lazy. It’s essential to remain positive about your life and never give up,” Sasamoto told NHK. “You need to push yourself and stay aware, so you can move forward. That’s what I want people to know.”


Photo credit: Satoko Kawasaki

Via My Modern

Credit: designyoutrust.com

Japanese women are rebelling against a decades-old Valentine’s Day tradition that mandates them to give chocolates to men.

According to the tradition, on February 14, the nation’s female workers are expected to give “giri choco,” or obligation chocolates, to their male colleagues. Women are also expected to buy heartfelt chocolates, “honmei choco,” for their crushes or loved one.

“Valentine’s Day (in Japan) got turned upside down to become a symbol of the Japanese patriarchy,” said Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert at Temple University in Tokyo. But this year, women are calling time on the financially draining practice.

A recent survey by a Tokyo department store found about 60 per cent of women will instead buy chocolates for themselves on Valentine’s Day. Only 35 per cent planned to offer chocolates to their male colleagues.

Japan began celebrating Valentine’s Day in 1958, after Japanese confectionery firm Mary Chocolate ran a campaign suggesting that women give men chocolates. In the 1980s, chocolate companies attempted to redress the chocolate buying balance.


Women in Japan are rebelling against a decades-old Valentine


White Day was introduced on March 14 as a date for men to return the favor although Kingston says that women often ended up gifting more chocolates than they received. Both dates turned out to be a boon for the chocolate industry. Valentine’s Day now accounts for a quarter of Japan’s yearly chocolate sales, according to the Nagoya International Center.

Last Saturday, the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People (RAUP) staged its 12th annual protest against “romantic capitalism” in Tokyo.

“We’re against companies exploiting events like Valentine’s Day to push excessive consumer culture and guilt-trip people who aren’t in relationships,” said Takeshi Akimoto, a member of the tiny fringe group, comprised of nine students and workers. One of the group’s complaints is that Valentine’s Day chocolates in the workplace can make some employees feel that their value is determined by how much confectionery they receive.

Credit: LIB

Tosin Taiwo is the Founder of Street to School Initiative, a non-governmental organization which sponsors the education programs of disadvantaged young people in underserved areas, especially out-of-school, street kids and primary school drop outs.

She has 10 years of kindred experience in community intervention projects and youth engaging programs, Over the years, she has resonated to standing in the gap for children who cannot afford basic education programs. Tosin fundraises to sponsor out of school children back to school. At present, 280 young people have been supported to register freely for WAEC/NECO/JAMB/GCE examination, with many as graduates.

In ensuring the total well-being of children in the community she serves, her organization acts as implementing partner to the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, to ensuring that Ikola Primary Health Care Centre is renovated and well-fortified with every necessary medical equipment. The Project was commissioned by the ambassador of japan in Nigeria, Amb. Yutaka Kikuta.

Tosin is the recipient of the United States Consul-General Award, an Alumnus of the United States Exchange Program International Visitor’s Leadership Program –IVLP in 2014.

The graduate of Computer Science from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and Overall Best Corps member for


I grew up with a mum whose other occupation was supporting the education programs of children around us. My mum is the type that would see an out-of-school child and would ask why? At early age, the first time I heard the word GCE was when my mum got the form for a student in the church. She was doing all this, because she didn’t have the opportunity as a child to further her education after Basic 4 because of poverty. She remains the medical doctor the world never had.

So, yes, my childhood prepared me in lots of ways. No child deserves to be left behind in attaining quality education, no, not in this 21st century

Meet Me

I am a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Lagos, an advocate of education for all with 9 years of experience working directly with children and women in rural communities and under-served areas. In 2009, after some charitable project during my service year (NYSC) in Kogi State, I came back to Lagos to initiate a pet project named RESOURCE SHARING NETWORK (RSN), with an objective to pull resources together from friends, families and myself, (as I worked briefly in a Software Company) to make impact in the lives of under-served children in the society. From having two members, we grew to having more than 77 like-minded young professionals and matured adult who were willing to mentor and sponsor the education programs of young people in rural communities.

Motivation behind Street to School Initiative

The motivation to start a non-governmental organization was born during NYSC. Remember, I studied Computer Science with keen interest in database management, however, there was a paradigm shift when I left for service, there, I lived close to struggling youth and physically challenged students. I became more inclined and receptive to the needs of vulnerable young people around me, I spent more time mentoring young people and fundraising to get them basic educational materials and mobility aid appliances (wheelchairs, clutches) than I did at my primary place of assignment. At the end of the service year, there came the NYSC State honors award with support from the wife of the Governor.


Recently, one of our sponsored girls graduated with a CGPA of 4.06 from Tai Solarin University. She had been on our sponsorship program since 2012, and, paired with an amazing sponsor. She has been beneficiary to Full Scholarship from GCE through University education. In 2016, we had another GCE sponsored/mentored student graduating with a first class from Nnamdi Azikiwe University. At the primary education level, we have seen the transformational effect that education could bring to any child. At present, we run a tuition-free school for primary school drop-outs and out of school children in Alimosho LGA, and most of these children could neither read nor write the alphabet correctly when they joined us, however, today, it is a different story. In 3 years, we have had 3 sets of 20 previously out of school children transitioned from primary school to secondary school. Some of these children, used to be on the street running errands, others were usually locked up from prying eyes due to parents inability of paying school fees, some had worked in car wash zones etc. The exciting thing is that these kids are not where they used to be. We are so thankful for all our friends and child sponsors.

Renovation of Ikola primary Health care

Ikola Primary Health Care Centre was constructed during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era, however, it was not equipped. And, sadly it was locked up for some years, in a community where there are more than 500,000 residents. In Ikola Community, we have witnessed the death of pregnant women who lost their lives when they could not access quality health care. Twice, we lost mothers of two of our pupils when medical help could not reach them on time. Again in 2017,one of our pupils, a 7 years old girl died in a church when the parents could not afford private hospital bill. These were death so many. So when we had the opportunity to request for one thing from the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, we requested for the improvement on the existing primary health care center. We requested for provision of medical equipment so that the center could be fully operational, and our children (most especially) could have access to good health care. Thankfully, this project was approved, and on the 14th of September, we had the Ambassador of Japan visit Ikola community for project commissioning. It was a huge one for us.

Challenges faced

When we started our tuition-free school in 2015, our objective was to make school accessible for out of school children, in three years, we have been able to serve more than 200 pupils against our initial projection. Unfortunately, we have outgrown our school space. We hope to get a property of our own to build a bigger and more conducive school. We need funding to achieve this goal. Other challenges that we are faced with are: (a) Lack of Textbooks: Only 2% of the pupils have English and Mathematics textbooks while 98% do not have any of the recommended texts. Consequently, this makes teaching herculean, as children without textbooks may not be able to actively participate in the workbook and exercises illustrated in thereon (b) Food: many times we have had to make provision for children who come to school without breakfast nor school lunch. It is a difficult thing to expect a child to learn and learn well with an empty stomach.

Other projects and activities

Aside education sponsorship, we identify with children from poor homes who do not have basic educational items such as school bags, notebooks, stationaries, sandal, uniform etc, and we donate to them, accordingly. We do this annually, and this project is tagged “BAG-SWAP”. Usually, before the commencement of new academic session, we usually call out for neatly used school supplies and educational items from our friends off and on social media. This year, we had donations of neatly used notebooks, reading books, school bags, lunch boxes, clothing and water bottles that we were able to give out to children we do not have. We do this to motivate children towards learning.

Other activity include, “TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY”, this is done in commemoration of World Teachers Day, usually celebrated on 5th of October. This day is set apart to celebrate exceptional teachers from low cost schools and government owned schools in rural communities.

Greatest reward

The Yemisi Ransome-Kuti Leadership Award in 2017 presented during the 25th anniversary of the Nigerian Network of NGOs (NNNGO).

My organization in five years time

In five years, I see Street to School Initiative as a bigger institution with school branches in 5 other underprivileged communities in Lagos and beyond. I see Street to School Initiative in partnership with World Bank Africa, to execute child-centric projects to reduce the number of out of school children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

On giving up…

Yes, most of the times. Running an NGO, especially in Nigeria is overwhelming, then, running one without adequate funding is life threatening. These are times when sustainability plans fail, and there is nowhere to fall to than to look up unto God, who allow rules the affairs of men. Seriously, I don’t even understand why I am still in this sector. It has been draining however fulfilling to see the smiles from lives positively impacted.

My Inspiration

Every woman out there who is undaunted in their pursuit for excellence inspires me. I remember as a child, my favorite pages on any newspaper or magazines, are those pages where there are photographs of women leaders. I would look at them in admiration and silently wish that someday I would be on the pages of the newspaper too. ☺

Balancing the home and work front

This is something I am still learning how to do more efficiently and effectively.

I am a Woman of Rubies

The word ‘rubies’ was used in the Bible to describe something precious and of great value, same bible tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Literally, I am a woman of rubies, because the Bible tells me so. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, I don’t pay attention to the rules, because nothing is impossible if I work hard.

Women in advocacy are not well appreciated…

I think that women in advocacy are not well appreciated as they ought to in this part of the world. Undoubtedly, it takes a lot of selflessness and painstaking commitment to champion a cause or policy.

We are hopeful for improvement, as the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.