Kei Komuro — the commoner husband of Japan‘s former Princess Mako of Akishino — has taken the New York State bar exam for the third time as he continues his quest to become a licensed attorney.
The 30-year-old, who failed the exam twice already, 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.
Komuro was dressed in a rumpled gingham button-down shirt that he wore untucked over hunter-green shorts and black athletic sneakers. His sleeves were haphazardly cuffed, revealing his green wristband identifying him as a test taker.
Kei Komuro, the commoner husband of Japan’s former Princess Mako of Akishino, took the New York State bar exam for the third time on Tuesday
The aspiring lawyer was spotted leaving the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City after sitting for the first half of the two-day exam
He carried a canvas bag over one shoulder, and his dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He still had his mask on when he left the testing site.
Mako wasn’t with him, but that didn’t stop him from being recognized. The aspiring lawyer was swarmed by reporters as he tried to find his Uber ride on the busy street.
Komuro was thrust into the public eye after Mako, the only daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko, gave up her royal title to marry him last October in a small civil ceremony.
He graduated from Fordham University’s law school in May 2021 and landed a job clerking at Lowenstein Sandler LLP in Manhattan, where he helps counsel companies and investors on venture capital financings, mergers, and acquisitions.
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.
Komuro was swarmed by reporters as he tried to find his Uber ride on the busy street
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.
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. His father died when he was in elementary school, and he was raised by his widowed mother, Kayo.
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
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.
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.
Mako and Komuro met as students at International Christian University in 2013 and wed in small civil ceremony in October 2021 (pictured at a press conference that month)
‘We are irreplaceable to each other — someone to rely on during both happy and unhappy times,’ she said. ‘So a marriage is a necessary choice for us to live while cherishing and protecting our feelings.’
Only male members of the Japanese imperial family are allowed to marry commoners, and Mako had to give up more than just her royal title to wed Komuro.
She has a surname for the first time in her life following their marriage and is now known as Mako Komuro. She also had to get a passport to travel, something she didn’t need as a royal.
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.
Only three of her relatives can succeed her paternal uncle, Emperor Naruhito, 62, under the current Imperial Household Law, including his 86-year-old uncle Masahito, Prince Hitachi.
The others are Mako’s 56-year-old father, Prince Fumihito, who is the emperor’s brother, and her 15-year-old brother, Prince Hisahito.
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
Mako left her home at the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo on October 26 (pictured), and she arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York a few weeks later on November 14
A few days after she arrived in New York City, she was seen shopping for hangers and other apartment necessities at a local Bed Bath & Beyond
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 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.