Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto diagnosed with cancer

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto diagnosed with cancer
Japanese composer and activist Ryuichi Sakamoto during a performance.

TOKYO - Renowned Japanese composer and activist Ryuichi Sakamoto has been diagnosed with throat cancer, his record company said on Thursday.

The 62-year-old, who shot to fame in the late 1970s with the pioneering techno-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), apologised to fans in a statement for having to take a break from performing but promised to beat the disease.

"I was diagnosed with cancer of the upper throat in June and will undergo immediate treatment," said Sakamoto.

"I deeply apologise to my fans and everyone involved in my current projects for having to make this unavoidable decision."

He added: "I will be sure to fully recover and then return."

Sakamoto is best known internationally for writing the score and acting in the 1983 movie "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence", also starring David Bowie, about a World War II Japanese prisoner of war camp.

The track "Forbidden Colours" from the same film became a worldwide hit for Sakamoto, who collaborated with popular artists such as David Sylvian, Thomas Dolby and Iggy Pop during the 1980s.

Sakamoto's management denied a local media report that the popular artist, a vigorous anti-nuclear activist, had refused radiation therapy due to his beliefs, slamming the newspaper as "irresponsible" on their Twitter feed.

Sakamoto organised the "No Nukes 2012 concert" near Tokyo featuring YMO and iconic German band Kraftwerk to protest against the use of nuclear energy following the reactor meltdowns at Fukushima caused by the deadly tsunami in March 2011.

He is set to undergo treatment in the United States, his daughter Miu posted on her Facebook page.

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