World-renowned Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto says he has throat cancer and has canceled his scheduled shows and activities.
The Oscar-winning composer and anti-nuclear activist said Thursday that he was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer at the end of June.
“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to take time off of work in order to concentrate on treating it,” the 62-year-old said in a statement. “I promise to return after a full recovery.”
According to his management agency Avex Music Creative Inc., Mr. Sakamoto will step down as one of the directors of the Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, scheduled to start next week. He will also cancel live shows including a performance at Park Hyatt Tokyo on July 30.
Avex Music Creative said there is no time frame set for Mr. Sakamoto’s return, and that the artist will “dedicate all his time to treatment.” The agency declined to offer details on the current stage of Mr. Sakamoto’s cancer.
The pioneering musician debuted as a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1978, playing a role in the emergence of electro pop and providing inspiration for a generation of electronic music and hip-hop producers. His creativity and prowess as a keyboard player, producer and composer extends to a large swath of genres and styles from pop rock to bossa nova. He won an Academy Award for composing the score music for Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film “The Last Emperor,” a movie he also appeared in as an actor.
Among international honors bestowed on Mr. Sakamoto, he was named an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in 2009.
In addition to his work in music, producing and acting, Mr. Sakamoto has been one of the most vocal activists against nuclear power following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
He has also been a leading figure in recent moves to prevent outdated legislation being used to stop people dancing at nightclubs in Japan.
*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.