Veteran Japanese musical composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has passed away at the age of 71 on March 28, 2023. The announcement was made on Sakamoto’s Twitter account after his funeral was privately held.
Sakamoto had most recently been undergoing treatment for rectal cancer in June 2020. He was diagnosed earlier with throat cancer in 2014, but was treated, with the cancer going into remission.
Born on January 17, 1952 in Tokyo, Sakamoto graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts and founded the influential electropop musical trio Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) with bandmates Haruomi Hosono and the late Yukihiro Takahashi in 1978. The group was disbanded in 1983, but reunited from 1992 to 1993. The trio performed together from time to time until 2012.
Sakamoto has composed musical scores for a variety of films and anime. He acted and composed the music for Nagisa Oshima’s 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence with David Bowie. The film produced the international hit song “Forbidden Colours,” with David Sylvian. In 1988, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the Grammy Award for his work on The Last Emperor. Other live-action films he composed music for include Wild Palms, Snake Eyes, Babel, and The Revenant (with Alva Noto), among others.
He also composed music for The Wings of Honneamise, Sayonara, Tyranno the Appleseed anime films, and Le Chevalier D’Eon. He most recently contributed the theme song for the Exception anime series, and the 2022 Urusei Yatsura anime, with his song “I-ke-na-i Rouge Magic” appearing in the show.
Sakamoto leaves behind his current wife, Norika Sora, and several children, which include singer Miu Sakamoto.