Oscar-winning Japanese composer and pop musician Ryuichi Sakamoto has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
In a message on his website, the former Yellow Magic Orchestra member said “the news was disheartening, but thanks to the excellent doctors I met, the surgery I underwent was a success. I am now undergoing treatment.”
He expressed gratitude to medical staff, and said: “Due to these circumstances, travelling long distances for work will be difficult. Still, I will continue to work as much as I can during treatment … From now on, I will be living alongside cancer. But, I am hoping to make music for a little while longer.”
Sakamoto is one of Japan’s most illustrious musicians, finding fame with electronic pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 1970s. He had a successful concurrent solo career, releasing 19 solo studio albums so far, and has collaborated with western musicians including Brian Wilson, Iggy Pop and David Byrne.
He starred alongside David Bowie in the 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and composed its famous theme tune, and has written numerous film scores for directors including Pedro Almodóvar, Oliver Stone and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Sakamoto won Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy awards for scoring Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film The Last Emperor.
In 2014, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and took a year off to focus on treatment. “I had the most harsh, physically painful time in my life. I almost couldn’t eat, or I almost couldn’t swallow my own saliva,” he said the following year, adding: “I feel better … I feel energy inside, but you never know. The cancer might come back in three years, five years, maybe 10 years.”