On November 4, Mako’s grandfather, Tatsuhiko Kawashima, passed away. The cause of death was mesothelioma. A reporter for a national newspaper in charge of the Imperial Household Agency spoke.
“On October 19, Mr. Kawashima was hospitalized at St. Luke’s International Hospital and was undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit. Mako, together with her sister Kako and Komuro, visited him every day. In accordance with Mr. Kawashima’s wishes, the funeral was held as a family service, and in addition to the Akishino family, Mr. Komuro and Ms. Mako also attended.
After completing his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971, Mr. Kawashima served as a professor at the Faculty of Economics at Gakushuin University and contributed to the field of education for a long time. Sumiko Ogawa, a professor at Meio University who was a close friend of Kawashima’s, said.
“Dr. Kawashima has been a visiting professor at Meio University since 2005, and I have been indebted to him for his lectures on volunteerism. No matter what the students said, he would say, ‘That’s an interesting idea,’ and would never say anything negative. He was really passionate about education, taking his students on volunteer activities in Thailand. We and the students called him ‘Tats’ with respect and affection.
In fact, behind Mr. Kawashima’s passing was the aftermath of the “problem” that Mr. Komuro was facing. It was a financial dispute with Mr. A, the former fiancée of Mr. Komuro’s mother, Kayo. Mr. A tells us about the progress of negotiations.
“In early November, we had set a specific date to meet with Kei. However, the day before, I received a message from the other side’s representative saying that it might be difficult to meet. I told him that I had been making adjustments to my work schedule for days and that if he wanted to cancel the appointment, he should give me a reason. However, there was no concrete explanation from the other side, and in the end, we were informed of the cancellation on the day of the event.
Considering the timing, Mr. Kawashima’s condition must have been unpredictable,” Mr. A continues.
Mr. A continued, “If it was because of Mr. Kawashima, of course I would have accepted the postponement of the negotiations. However, if that was the case, I wanted a clear explanation. The negotiations have had to be rescheduled many times already, and it takes a lot of effort to adjust the schedule and prepare for each negotiation. As for me, I still want to solve the problem as soon as possible and send Kei-kun off. It would be a shame and very sad if he were to leave for the U.S. without sufficient time to negotiate.
The impact of Kawashima’s death on the two men is immeasurable. The impact of Kawashima’s death on them is immeasurable.
“After Noriko married in 1990, Mr. Kawashima never talked about the royal family to anyone around him. However, his love for his first grandchild, Mako, is said to be deep, and he sent her picture books when she was a child. Mako lost her beloved grandfather before coming to the U.S., and it is thought that she is suffering from a great emotional shock.
This is not the only aftermath. Some women’s weekly magazines reported that Mr. Kawashima might be covering the wedding expenses of Mr. Komuro and Ms. Mako. It is highly possible that Mr. Kawashima was a great support for Mako, both materially and emotionally. Mr. Yuji Odabe, professor emeritus at Shizuoka University of Social Welfare, said.
“Among Mako’s relatives, the Kawashimas are probably the only ones who can proudly offer financial support. Furthermore, Mr. Kawashima was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, so he probably had connections in the U.S. as well. For Mako, Mr. Kawashima’s support in various aspects of her new life in the U.S. must have been a source of hope. With Komuro’s failure to pass the bar exam, financial concerns are mounting. I think there is a dark cloud hanging over their new life together.
In the midst of this situation, the two went to the United States on April 14.
From “FRIDAY” November 26, 2021 issue
Photo by Shinji Hasuo： Shinji Hasuo (1st photo) Kyodo News (2nd photo)