The death of renowned Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto sparked an outpouring of grief and tributes on Monday from contemporaries and fans all over the world.
Sakamoto, who died on March 28 at the age of 71, led a multifaceted career in which he played keyboard for the legendary electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra and won an Oscar and Grammy for scoring the 1987 movie "The Last Emperor."
Haruomi Hosono, 75, the last surviving member of the futuristic techno-pop band YMO, posted a wordless, gray image to his Instagram account, with fans in the comments writing of their grief. The response was similar to a tweet by Sakamoto when the other member of the trio, Yukihiro Takahashi, died aged 70 in January this year.
Hosono later wrote on his account, "The news always comes unexpectedly. I have no words."
Comedian, film director and actor Takeshi Kitano, who appeared with Sakamoto in the 1983 World War II film "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," said that key members in the film had all passed away, referring to co-starring British musician David Bowie and Japanese director Nagisa Oshima.
"After all of my friends passed away, I'm the only one left in 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,'" 76-year-old Kitano said in a statement.
Sakamoto's frequent collaborator David Sylvian, who fronted British New Romantic band Japan and worked with him on projects including "Forbidden Colours," a song in the film, uploaded three posts to Instagram in tribute to Sakamoto.
Among them was a blank image with the closing lines to American poet Jack Gilbert's poem "Failing and Flying," quoting, "I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph."
Contemporary stars also paid tribute to Sakamoto, with Suga from K-pop boy band BTS writing to fans that he is "praying that his long journey will be peaceful."
Brazilian music legend Caetano Veloso posted pictures of the two together on Instagram and wrote, "I recorded with him, and was honored to call him my friend."
A tribute also came from the Japanese government, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno expressing his "heartfelt sorrow" at hearing about the passing of the late composer, noting Sakamoto's worldwide recognition, including an Oscar and Grammy for the score of "The Last Emperor."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning also expressed her condolences over Sakamoto's death, saying at a press conference in Beijing Monday that he was "enthusiastic about cultural exchanges between China and Japan and has created many excellent musical works containing Chinese elements."
In China, the composer was known for his role in an award-winning movie about Pu Yi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty.
Sakamoto was also a prominent activist for environmental causes, including opposing nuclear-generated power in the aftermath of the March 2011 nuclear disaster that struck northeastern Japan.
In 2007, he founded the forest protection group More Trees, whose activities include the planting and maintenance of forests. They have also built temporary homes made from local timber in an area affected by the 2011 disaster.
Shinkichi Mizutani, who has served as the organization's director since its founding, said that Sakamoto would "often talk about the enormous amount of time between a tree being planted and it becoming part of the forest."
On continuing the departed musician's legacy, Mizutani said that he thinks the "greatest way for us to honor his memory is to carry on his work unceasingly."
Environmental issues remained a concern of Sakamoto's right until the end of his life. In March, he made headlines for sending a letter to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike voicing his opposition to plans to redevelop the capital's Jingu Stadium and Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, which would see hundreds of trees cut down.
In a written interview with Kyodo News on March 19, he said he "could not remain silent" over the plans. The interview's English translation, posted on Sakamoto's official Twitter account on Friday, was its last message before the announcement of his death days earlier.
Sakamoto revealed in June 2022 that he was battling stage IV cancer, having previously gone public about his throat cancer diagnosis in 2014 and a rectal cancer diagnosis in 2021.