Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto dies aged 71

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Art & Culture

The pioneering musician and member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra has died at age 71 following a battle with cancer.

Ryuichi Sakamoto was widely regarded as one of the most innovative musicians of the past century, having composed soundtracks and film scores for a plethora of films including the likes of Proxima, The Revenant and many more.

To the wider public he may be perhaps best known for the music he composed for the film “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” which iconically starred David Bowie in the 80’s – with the soundtrack going on to become acclaimed and recognised in its own right.

The Yellow Magic Orchestra were pioneering in their use of Japanese influences in heralding a new era of electronic music at the same time.


As a musician and an artist Sakamoto was prolific, releasing a seemingly endless number of albums and working on numerous projects up until his passing on the 28th of March last week – the news being announced by his team on the 2nd of April.

A statement was released earlier:

“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of artist and musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto, on the 28th of March, 2023.  While undergoing treatment for cancer discovered in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health would allow. He lived with music until the very end. 

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to his fans and all those who have supported his activities, as well as the medical professionals in Japan and the U.S. who did everything in their power to cure him.” 

In accordance with Sakamoto’s wishes, a funeral service was held with his close family members.

“We ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief. Finally, we would like to share one of Sakamoto’s favorite quotes: ‘Ars longa, vita brevis.’ Art is long, life is short.”