Coronavirus Outbreak: Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies at 70 from pneumonia-like symptoms

Ken Shimura was scheduled to be a part of upcoming Japanese films The God of Cinema and The Name Above the Title.

FP Staff March 30, 2020 08:56:46 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies at 70 from pneumonia-like symptoms

Japanese comedian Ken Shimura, who had been hospitalised after being infected with the coronavirus, has died, public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday. He was 70.

Shimura, one of the country’s best-known comedians with a career dating back to the early 1970s, had been hospitalised in Tokyo and died on Sunday evening, NHK said.

According to The Japan Times, Shimura was hospitalised on 20 March after he developed severe pneumonia. He tested positive for the virus three days later, becoming the first Japanese celebrity to reveal their diagnosis.

Coronavirus Outbreak Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies at 70 from pneumonialike symptoms

Ken Shimura. Image from Twitter

The Japan Times writes that Shimura, now a household name in Japan, gained success after starring in the band and comedy group Drifters. They not only opened for the Beatles, but also became one of the most recognised figures in the Japanese comedy circuit.

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His major claim to fame was the 1969 comedy show Hachijidayo Zeninshugo! (It’s 8 o’clock, assemble everyone!). He was known for the "moustache dance" and the song 'Higashimurayama Ondo', reference to his hometown. His characters "Baka Tonosama" (foolish lord) and "Henna Ojisan" (weirdo uncle) are iconic across the country, states The Hollywood Reporter.

Before his passing, Shimura starred in Tensai! Shimura Dobutsuen (Genius! Shimura Zoo) and other ongoing TV shows. His upcoming projects included director Yoji Yamada's God of Cinema and a film based on a book called The Name Above the Title, scheduled to go into production in April.

Tokyo has confirmed 68 new coronavirus cases, a record daily increase, public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday, as the Japanese capital scrambles to prevent a wider outbreak, while a cluster of infections increased near the city.

Authorities confirmed 28 new coronavirus cases from a cluster related to a home for the disabled in Chiba prefecture, adjacent to Tokyo, NHK said.

The outbreak has infected more than 1,800 people in Japan, with 55 deaths as of Sunday afternoon, excluding 712 cases and 10 deaths from a cruise ship that was moored near Tokyo last month, NHK said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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