TOKYO — Internationally renowned musician, composer, record producer, writer and activist Ryuichi Sakamoto announced July 10 that he is putting his projects on hold while he battles throat cancer.
In a message posted on his website, Sakamoto said:
“In the end of June, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. After much thought and consideration, I have decided to take time off of work in order to concentrate on treating it. I deeply regret causing so many people considerable inconvenience. However, the first wealth is health, and hence this bitter decision.
“I will not be able to attend the fast approaching First Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, a project that I have spent the past two painstaking years in preparation for. I would like to express my sincerest apologies to Fumio Ueda, the mayor of Sapporo, the citizens of the city, the managerial staff, contributing artists, and everyone who has helped realize this project.
“Although I will be absent, all of the programs will be of the highest quality — this I promise. I would like nothing more than for everyone to enjoy the festival in my place.
“Furthermore, I had planned a performance on July 30 commemorating Park Hyatt Tokyo’s 20th anniversary. I was looking forward to attending the anniversary along with all of the guests, and to present new material written for this occasion. I would like to express my deepest apologies to those involved in putting this together, and to those who planned to attend the concert.
“Lastly, I would like to apologize for all of the burden I will undoubtedly be casting upon everyone who has been working with me on various other projects.
“Please bear with me while I regain my health. I promise to return after a full recovery Thank you very much.”
Sakamoto’s career goes back to the late 1970s, when he was both a solo artist and a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra. He received a BAFTA Award for his score for Nagisa Oshima’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (1983), in which he also starred opposite David Bowie and Takeshi Kitano. For composing the score for Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” (1987) with David Byrne and Cong Su, Sakamoto won an Academy Award, a Grammy and a Golden Globe. He won another Golden Globe for the soundtrack of Bertolucci’s “The Sheltering Sky” (1990) and composed music for the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
More recently, Sakamoto composed ring and alert tones for Nokia in 2005, established the Commmons record label in 2006, reunited with YMO’s Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi to release a single, “Rescue,” in 2007, was honored with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France’s Ministry of Culture in 2009, organized the “No Nukes 2012” concert in Japan, and served as a jury member of the 70th Venice International Film Festival in 2013.