Singer, Japan-China friendship envoy Shinji Tanimura dies at 74
Published: Oct 17, 2023 12:30 AM
Shinji Tanimura performs in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, in 2007. Photo: CFP

Shinji Tanimura performs in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, in 2007. Photo: CFP

Japanese singer-songwriter Shinji Tanimura died on October 8 at the age of 74. The news was announced on his official website on October 16, according to media reports. 

"With deep regret, we announce the passing of Shinji Tanimura on October 8. Despite his diligent efforts towards recovery, he breathed his last breath," the announcement said, adding that a private funeral was held on October 15, attended only by close family members. "It brings us comfort to share that he passed away peacefully, with a serene expression on his face," the announcement also said.

Tanimura has been undergoing medical treatment since March this year when he underwent surgery for enteritis.

Born in Osaka Prefecture in 1948, Tanimura first gained fame in the 1970s in Japan as one of the founders of the band "Alice." The group's hits included the song Hashitte Koide Koibiyo yo, according to Dimsum Daily.

Tanimura was also known for songs such as Subaru and he became popular in China after he performed at the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. 

Nearly 50 of his songs have been adapted into Mandarin versions, according to media reports. 

Chinese netizens honored the memory of Tanimura upon hearing of his death and expressed gratitude for his contributions to the cultural exchanges between China and Japan. 

"Tanimura is one of my favorite Japanese singers. I love his song Subaru," said one user on Sina Weibo, adding, "I can't believe it! 74 is not considered old, what a pity..."

"Putting aside the conflicts between China and Japan, Mr. Tanimura is much-respected," another user posted on Weibo. 

"I studied science in high school, and I had to choose Japanese to be able to go to Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFS). I felt strong resistance to it for a while due to the terrible relations between China and Japan. But there were three Japanese celebrities who made it easier for me: Shinji Tanimura, Haruki Murakami (a renowned writer) and Hayao Miyazaki (an animator)," Ma Yanrong, a former Japanese major at BFS, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Tanimura helped to build friendly relations between China and Japan, and he also served as a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music for five years from 2004.

"Music and culture have played a significant role in promoting exchanges between Japan and China," Tanimura said in a previous interview in Beijing, expressing sincere hope that bilateral relations will improve further, according to Kyodo News.