Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (2023)

  • Kei Komuro, recently married to the Emperor’s niece, formerly known as Princess Mako, shocked Japan after announcing that he had failed the New York Bar Exam on October 29.
  • This latest incident involving Komuro is proving to be a major source of embarrassment for the Imperial Household and, no doubt, a source of concern among Mako’s parents, Prince Fumihito–who is second-in-line to the throne—and his wife, Princess Kiko.
  • The Japanese public have been skeptical of Komuro all along, and now many feel that their worst fears have been proved correct. Reaction in the Twittersphere was quick and brutal.

The long saga is reminiscent of the hit drama Suits, which featured Meghan Markle as the up-and-coming paralegal Rachel Zane who, in the real world, subsequently went on to marry Britain’s Prince Harry and is now the Duchess of Sussex. A similar story—but in reverse—has been developing for years in Japan. It involved the recent marriage of a commoner to the niece of Emperor Naruhito, formerly known as Princess Mako, and her long-time college sweetheart, Kei Komuro, an aspiring lawyer and recent graduate of Fordham Law School in New York.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (1)

After waiting for years for the official go-ahead from their parents and the Imperial Household Agency, Princess Mako was finally to be able to wed Komuro at the end of last month, at which point she relinquished her Imperial title. Everything seemed to be going well until a bombshell dropped just as the newlyweds were fervently preparing to move to New York City.

Komuro had already accepted a job at a major law firm, and the couple had already signed a contract to rent an ultra-luxury apartment on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. The job offer—and, possibly, the marriage itself—was probably conditional upon Komuro being able to pass the bar exam for the State of New York. It was to be his next step toward being able to practice law in the U.S. The young couple decided to forego a wedding ceremony and went ahead a few weeks ago to register their marriage.

It certainly did not take long before the newlyweds tested the strength of their wedding vows, because Komuro flunked his first attempt at the bar exam.

What’s All the Fuss about Kei Komuro?

Some guys just can’t catch a break. That would be an understatement in the case of Komuro.

Who Is Kei Komuro?

Komuro, age 30, is the college sweetheart of former Princess Mako, niece of Emperor Naruhito. That is not a typo. Princess Mako is, in fact, now a “former princess,” because she officially left the Imperial Household when she formally registered her marriage to Komuro only a few weeks ago.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (2)

The two have been trying to get married for almost a decade, due to a still unresolved controversy involving financial issues on his side of the family. You can read more about it from my previous article “Is Japan’s Princess Mako Still Attempting to Marry a Commoner?

While Mako probably aspired to lead a relatively unpretentious yet comfortable, private life after finally getting the green light to marry Komuro, this latest incident is keeping the couple in the public eye—and now he’s got a black eye.

What Happened?

After graduating law school in Japan from the prestigious Hitotsubashi University Graduate School in 2018, Komuro enrolled in Fordham University School of Law in New York to pursue an American law degree to be able to practice law in the U.S. He successfully graduated in May, started working as a legal assistant at the law firm of Lowenstein Sandler, and subsequently took the bar exam for the State of New York in July.

Life was good! Before becoming a full-fledged lawyer in the U.S. Komuro simply had to patch up the longstanding dispute with the Imperial Household to be able to marry Mako, plan and execute a global relocation to the U.S. and, naturally, pass the bar exam.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (3)

His new employer, the law firm of Lowenstein Sandler based out of Roseland, New Jersey, which is just northwest of New York City, is a major firm in the Northeast. Founded in 1961, Lowenstein Sandler employs approximately 350 attorneys and almost 600 people overall. Their focus is in IT, life sciences, and investment funds. The firm also has offices in Manhattan, Palo Alto, Utah, and Washington, D.C.

Komuro and his wife have, apparently, already signed a contract for a luxury apartment in uptown Manhattan which would become the new base for the happy married life for which they had been waiting all of these years.

(Video) Princess Mako's 'commoner' husband Kei Komuro fails bar exam for a SECOND time

Komuro had been making steady progress and ticking off his “to do” list one by one until the unthinkable happened on October 29. He failed the bar exam!

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (4)

According to the New York State Bar Examination Commission, 9,227 people took the exam. 5,791, or 63%, passed, but Komuro was one of the unlucky 3,436 people who had flunked.

Komuro’s Unexpected Results

According to NHK News 7, Komuro called Yoshihiko Okuno, the Japanese lawyer who has been supporting Mr. Komuro’s study abroad, on the morning of October 30. Komuro told him,

The result of this examination was unsuccessful. I am very sorry. I will try again for the exam in February next year. I will continue to make every effort.

It is likely that Komuro was shocked by the results.

Yotaro, a Japanese lawyer who has passed the New York Bar Exam, commented,

What? Kei Komuro failed the NY State Bar Exam… At the time I passed (2017), about 25 Japanese classmates took the exam and only 2 failed. I think it is an exam that Japanese people can pass if they study hard for 2 months normally. It is completely different from the Japanese bar exam. It is more like a driver’s license test. I wonder if he made some big mistake…


— YOTARO (@LawyerTaro) October 29, 2021

While Komura might simply have had a bad day when he took the exam, it is highly likely that most of his fellow graduates from Fordham probably passed. A year before, among those who sat for this particular test, 89.9% of Fordham graduates passed the State of New York bar exam on their first try. He is, therefore, in a small minority of Fordham graduates who failed on their first attempt.

At the very least his wife, now known simply as Mako Komuro, is supportive. She announced,

I accept what Mr. Komuro said and will support his (further) studies.

So, what will happen next?

What Happens Now?

Komuro will need to sit again for the exam, and the newlyweds will need to re-consider whether to move forward with their plans to relocate to New York City.

Odds Are against Him Being Able to Pass Next Time

Each state in the U.S. holds the bar exam twice a year, with the next one scheduled for next February. Given his recent announcement about the failing grade, it sounds like Komuro plans to try again early next year. There will be a lot riding on whether he can pass next time.

(Video) Kei Komuro, husband of Princess Mako, fails NY bar exam, Japanese Reactions

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (5)

Hiroshi Kiyohara, a Japanese lawyer who is also licensed to practice law in New York, recently appeared on Japanese television to discuss this matter. He commented,

The pass rate will be low after the second time.

Kiyohara cited that every July around 65% pass the test because they have just recently graduated from law school and have spent at least 2 months cramming for the test. Among those who sit for the exam in February, typically only 45% pass due to trying to study on top of a busy work schedule.

This dilemma is, by the way, similar to the problem that that the fictional Rachel Zane of Suits (played by Meghan Markle) had when she was trying to pass the test to get into law school while working full-time as a paralegal.

Thus, Kiyohara concluded,

It can be generally said that February is more difficult to pass.

Perhaps Mako will, however, quickly pivot into a stereotypical “education mother” or kyoiku mama in Japanese (教育ママ) to ensure that her husband passes next time.

Will Komuro Still Have a Job?

There is no doubt that the partners at Lowenstein Sandler were also disappointed by Komuro’s failing score. They are, however, probably used to this situation among a small group of new recruits—especially among those for whom English is not their native language.

Many law firms in New York allow one failed attempt, but it is common practice to fire new recruits straight out of law school if they fail twice.

What about the Newlywed’s Plans to Move to Manhattan?

Five days after registering their marriage in Japan last month, the couple moved into an apartment in Shibuya, Tokyo. Two days later they visited a driver’s license center in Tokyo to apply for an international driver’s license for Mako as part of their preparations for relocating to New York City.

The couple will, however, need to consider whether it is practical to make this move now. The rent for the ultra-luxurious 100 square meter (approximately 1,100 square foot) 2LDK (living room, dining room, kitchen with 2 bedrooms) apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that has, reportedly, been put under contract by the couple is said to require a rent of U.S. $7,000 per month (approximately 800,000 yen). Thus, their rent alone is likely to exceed Komuro’s annual income.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (6)

Had Komuro passed the bar exam, it has been estimated that his starting salary could have been as high as $175,000 (approximately 20 million yen). The median starting salary for 2016 and 2017 graduates of Fordham’s law school who passed the bar exam on their first attempt was $118,210 (13.5 million yen), and 42% of the class of 2018 who passed the bar exam made at least $190,000 (21.6 million yen) during their first year on the job.

If Komuro remains at his current position, he is likely to make only a quarter of that amount. At Lowenstein Sandler paralegals earn $47,000 (5.3 million yen), and legal assistants make $60,000 (6.8 million yen). That is not enough to support an extravagant lifestyle—even if the newlyweds become a double-income-no-kids (DINKs) couple. There are reports that Mako will be working at a museum in New York, but that job may not generate enough income either.

Had Mako decided to take the one-time, tax-free lump sum payout from the Imperial Household, which was valued up to 152.5 million Japanese yen (approximately US $1.3 million), that she ultimately gave up, the couple’s financial situation would have been different.

(Video) Kei Komuro fails the bar for a second time in NYC #keikomuro

It is possible to choose a less expensive apartment, but if their living quarters do not have adequate security, Mako’s personal safety would be a concern. That is something that the Imperial Household seems to want to avoid at all costs.

Implications for the Imperial Family

There is probably a lot of second-guessing going on among the members of the Imperial Household at the moment.

Major Source of Embarrassment

This test results are said to have upset even the Imperial Household Agency.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (7)

A senior official of the Imperial Household Agency said that he learned of the rejection through a report on NHK. He explained that the Imperial Household Agency is most afraid of the reaction of Prince Akishino and Princess Noriko, the parents of Mako. The official commented,

They both believed that Komuro would become a lawyer and be able to provide ‘a stable foundation’ for his life, so I think it’s only natural for them to feel uneasy as parents.

The newlyweds must have had a difficult conversation with Mako’s concerned parents.

More Restrictions on the Remaining Children?

Some are questioning whether the recent string of marriages to commoners is not all that it is cracked up to be. Perhaps the Imperial Family will return to its time-honored tradition of arranged marriages to graduates of the various educational institutions affiliated with Gakushuin.

Princess Mako’s Husband Kei Komuro Fails New York Bar Exam (8)

All of these developments must be a source of concern for the only child of the Emperor and Empress, Aiko, age 19, whose title is Princess Toshi. Her cousins, who are the siblings of the former Princess Mako, Prince Hisahiko, age 15, and Princess Kako, age 26, are also probably wondering whether new restrictions will be placed on their future potential marriage partners.

Public Reaction to Komuro Failing the Bar

There has been widespread skepticism about Komuro among the Japanese public for many years.

“I Told You So”

It seems like this latest incident is an opportunity for many to vent their frustration on Twitter by, essentially, shouting “I told you so.” It is cited as more evidence that Komuro is just not considered to be “up to snuff” to marry into Japan’s Imperial Household (at least unofficially).

At the very least it seems as though the couple “jumped the gun” before ensuring that everything—including Komuro’s source of steady income—was, in fact, “buttoned down.”

Kuriran tweeted,

Why did you get married before your acceptance speech?  How are you two going to make a life for yourselves in America?



— くりらん (@W24s1wkiF) October 30, 2021
(Video) Kei Komuro swarmed by press in NYC after taking the Bar Exam

The text in the accompanying manga says, “It could be the work of a demon.”

The couple’s practical money problems have, moreover, only continued to fuel debate about whether Komuro has previously been given any tax payer-funded support since he began dating Mako.

Ongoing Rumors about Financial Support from the Imperial Family

Hikari Ken tweeted,

The law firm where he works is baffled by the information about Kei Komuro’s rejection -> Mako had claimed that there was no fact that royal power was used at Fordham Law School, but how did KK, who failed the NY State Bar Exam, which 87% of Americans pass, become one of the only students in his class to receive a full tuition scholarship?


— 光野玄馬 (@hikarikensosha) October 30, 2021

Given the couple’s right to at least a modicum of privacy and how the Imperial Household Agency famously protects the Imperial Family from the paparazzi, it is unlikely that we will ever get the full story behind such claims.

After formally announcing their marriage, Mako stated,

We are going to start a new life together. I think there will be difficulties in a different way as we live from now on.

After only a few weeks of life as a newlywed, this has certainly already proven to be very much of an understatement. Perhaps after this somewhat inauspicious start everything will, however, work out, Komuro will pass the bar exam next year, and the young couple will live happily ever after.

In the meantime, Komuro had better hit the books!

Links to Sources:,,,,,, and


Did Kei Komuro pass his bar exam? ›

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.

What is Princess Mako doing now? ›

Mako Komuro, who married her college boyfriend and moved to New York City last fall, is now reportedly assisting curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Because the law in Japan requires a princess to "leave the imperial family upon marriage to a commoner," Princess Mako gave up her royal titles to marry Komuro.

Where was Kei Komuro born? ›

What is the NY bar exam pass rate? ›

Two states matched their pass rate from 2021. In New York, which is the largest bar exam jurisdiction, the February overall pass rate declined to 45% from 49% a year ago.

How is Princess Mako in New York? ›

Japan's Former Princess Mako Is Working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The former Japanese princess moved to New York City with her husband at the end of 2021, and she recently started working within the Met's Asian art collection.

How is Japanese princess doing New York? ›

Following a quiet wedding ceremony in Tokyo on October 26, 2021, newlyweds Mako and Kei Komuro seem to have finally settled down in their New York home with new jobs, apparently happily enjoying their rather more low key lives as commoners.

What does the name Hime mean? ›

Hime (姫) is the Japanese word for princess or a lady of higher birth.

Who is the current king of Japan? ›

Naruhito 徳仁

Which law firm does Kei Komuro work? ›

Kei Komuro, a paralegal at the Okuno & Partners law firm in Japan who is engaged to be married to Japan's Princess Mako, will attend Fordham Law School starting in August. He has received the Michael M. Martin Scholarship.

What does Princess Mako's husband do for a living? ›

Princess Mako gave up her royal titles to marry Kei Komuro, a commoner who is working at a New York law firm.

Did Kei Komuro graduate? ›

Komuro has already started working as a law clerk at a legal firm in New York after graduating from Fordham University's law school with a Juris Doctor degree in May 2021.

Is the NY bar hard to pass? ›

The New York Bar exam is difficult, but not the most difficult to pass. States such as California, Louisiana and Oregon are just some states considered to have a more difficult bar exam based on pass rate. On average, the New York Bar exam comes in with a pass rate of 61%.

What is the hardest bar exam to pass? ›

While California's bar exam may be largely perceived as the hardest one in the nation, some other states that may pose similar difficulty and the reasons for this include: Arkansas: Arkansas also has a grueling two-day test. It requires you to know several state and local laws, in addition to federal ones.

Which bar is harder California or New York? ›

Overall, California's new 1,390 passing score places it seventh highest in the nation. For context, New York's cut score stands at 1,330. Learn more about how the California Bar Exam is scored, including the MBE and PT!

What would a Japanese empress wear? ›

The jūnihitoe was composed of a number of kimono-like robes, layered on top of each other, with the outer robes cut both larger and thinner to reveal the layered garments underneath. These robes were referred to as hitoe, with the innermost robe – worn as underwear against the skin – known as the kosode.

Does Mako marry? ›

Princess Mako's Wedding to Commoner Kei Komuro Puts a Spotlight on the Japanese Monarchy's Succession Problem. Japan's Princess Mako finally married her long-time commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro on Tuesday, ending uncertainty fueled by years of delay, controversy, and public scrutiny of their engagement.

Is Princess Mako and Princess aiko related? ›

During her first public press conference, Princess Aiko of Japan praised her cousin, Princess Mako. Aiko, who vowed to fulfill her royal duties, called Mako "kind" and wished her years of happiness. Mako left Japan and royalty after marrying her non-royal college sweetheart.

How much does the Japanese royal family get paid? ›

They are not prohibited from holding jobs or running businesses. For example, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, his wife and two daughters receive £310,000 per year, but they are not well known by the Japanese public and have few imperial duties. The real annual cost was estimated to be $325 million per year, also as of 2003.

Who is the most popular Disney princess in Japan? ›

Once again, Cinderella was the most popular Disney princess in Asia with Elsa coming out on top in Japan, Turkey and Vietnam.

Will Aiko Princess Toshi become empress? ›

Japan still has male-only heir laws, which means Aiko will not be Empress. As it stands, there are only two heirs to the Japanese throne: Naruhito's brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, and his nephew, Prince Hitachi.

Is oh a Chinese name? ›

History. O also spelled Oh (Hangul: 오) is the Korean form of the Chinese surname Wu (Hanja: 吳). The character 吳 is phonetically pronounced "Oh" in Korean, but "Wu" in Mandarin Chinese, however the historic origin of the surname is the same.

What does warabi mean? ›

Warabi is the Japanese word for the fern known in English as bracken.

Is House a Scottish name? ›

The House family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most House families were found in USA in 1880. In 1891 there were 526 House families living in London. This was about 14% of all the recorded House's in United Kingdom.

Do the Japanese still worship the emperor? ›

So, is emperor worship a thing in Japan? The short answer is “No. The Japanese emperor is not a god.” While deeply revered as the descendants of the sun goddess, emperors were never worshiped as living gods except for a short period during the build up to WWII[x].

Does the Japanese royal family have any power? ›

Since the enactment of the 1947 constitution, the role of emperor has been relegated to that of a ceremonial head of state without even nominal political powers.

Did Komuro graduate from Fordham? ›

Komuro, 30, graduated from Fordham University's law school in New York in May and took New York state's bar examination in July. Currently, he belongs to a New York law firm as a staff member. A total of 9,227 people took the July exam.

Did Kei Komuro graduate? ›

Komuro has already started working as a law clerk at a legal firm in New York after graduating from Fordham University's law school with a Juris Doctor degree in May 2021.

Where did Kei Komuro attend law school? ›

Kei Komuro, fiance of Princess Mako of Japan, to attend Fordham Law. Kei Komuro, a paralegal at the Okuno & Partners law firm in Japan who is engaged to be married to Japan's Princess Mako, will attend Fordham Law School starting in August. He has received the Michael M. Martin Scholarship.

What did Kei Komuro study? ›

The couple announced their desire to move to New York as Kei Komuro gained a Juris Doctor degree from Fordham University School of Law in May 2021; but his name is not listed in the Class of 2021 Recognition Page. He is employed by the New York-based law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Where will Mako Komuro live? ›

Following a quiet wedding ceremony in Tokyo on October 26, 2021, newlyweds Mako and Kei Komuro seem to have finally settled down in their New York home with new jobs, apparently happily enjoying their rather more low key lives as commoners.

Who is Takashi Komuro wife? ›

Takashi is a 17-year-old second-year student of Fujimi High School. He and Rei are childhood friends and also in the same class. When they were children, Rei and Takashi made a promise to get married someday, but because of his indecisiveness, Rei started dating his friend, Hisashi.

Who likes Komuro Takashi? ›

Rei Miyamoto – As the other main love interest for Takashi, Rei seems to have home-field advantage due to them having a relationship before the zombie apocalypse. Takashi was in love with her beforehand, and the two promised to get married when they were little kids, but that was before everything fell apart.

How did Kei Komuro and Mako meet? ›

How did Kei Komuro and Princess Mako meet? The couple, who are the same age, met in 2012 as students at the International Christian University in Tokyo. When they first announced their engagement in 2017, the princess and Komuro were portrayed as a perfect match.

Why did Mako Komuro leave Japan? ›

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former princess Mako Komuro and her husband left Japan on Sunday to start a new life in the United States, less than a month after tying the knot amid controversy over a financial dispute involving his mother and her former fiance.

How did Princess Mako meet her husband? ›

Mako first met Komuro at a meeting of students planning to go abroad in 2012. Komuro was raised by a single mother, with some media reports saying part of his education was funded by his mother's former fiance. At one point, he earned some money by working for tourism promotion near Tokyo.

What is the difference between JD and LLM? ›

An LLM takes a lawyer deeper, to gain "advanced knowledge in a specific area of law for career advancement, upward mobility, and/or expanded practice opportunities." The primary difference in the curriculum is that a JD program covers general law concepts; the LLM is focused on a specific area of expertise.

Who is Mr Komuro? ›

Tetsuya Komuro (小室 哲哉, Komuro Tetsuya, born November 27, 1958) is a Japanese musician, songwriter and record producer. He is recognized as the most successful producer in Japanese music history and introduced contemporary electronic dance music to the Japanese mainstream.

Who is Japan princess? ›

Aiko, Princess Toshi (敬宮愛子内親王, Toshi-no-miya Aiko Naishinnō, born 1 December 2001) is the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan.

What does Princess Mako's husband do for a living? ›

Princess Mako gave up her royal titles to marry Kei Komuro, a commoner who is working at a New York law firm.

Where does Princess Mako's husband work? ›

The two, both 30, will move to New York, where Komuro works in a law office, although news reports say Mako will stay behind in Tokyo to make preparations, including applying for her first ever passport.

Why is Mako Komuro not a princess anymore? ›

Japan's Princess Mako has married her college sweetheart Kei Komuro - thus losing her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members forfeit their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.


1. Kei Komuro unexpectedly fails the bar exam
2. Rumors are circulating about former Princess Mako's spouse, Kei Komuro
3. Kei Komuro takes a coffee break on day 2 of NY State Bar Exam in NYC! #keikomuro #makokomuro
4. Japanese people are not Happy with Komuro Kei and Princess Mako’s situation
5. Kei Komuro asked how the bar exam was on Day 2 #keikomuro #royalscandal
6. Kei Komuro exits the NY Bar Exam in NYC! #keikomuro
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