In Brief

Japanese princess renounces royal status to marry commoner

The country's imperial family is dwindling, leading to calls for constitutional change

Japan's Princess Mako has announced she is to reliquish her royal status to marry a commoner.

The eldest grandchild of Japan's current Emperor Akihito has been given permission to wed her former university classmate Kei Komuro.

Mako will give up her royal status under a controversial Japanese law which means female royals lose their titles on marrying a commoner, while males do not.

News of the engagement has been generally well received,  says The Independent, but "the development has underlined the dwindling size of Japan's imperial family, which mirrors the decline of the country's population".

The country's 83-year-old emperor is expected to abdicate in late 2018 and pass the throne to his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito. Since the line of succession excludes women, this leaves only two living male heirs eligible to assume the Chrysanthemum Throne - Prince Naruhito's younger brother Prince Akishino and his only son, ten-year-old Prince Hisahito.

This has led to a constitutional crisis in Japan, with some calling for changes in the law to allow women to succeed to the throne or at least keep their royal status so they can carry on performing public duties.

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