Veteran Japanese action movie star, singer Watari dies
Japan Today -- Aug 15
Veteran Japanese action movie star and singer Tetsuya Watari, known for his role in the hit police drama "Seibu Keisatsu" (Western Police), died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo earlier this week, his office said Friday. He was 78.

Watari, whose real name was Michihiko Watase, died Monday at 6:30 p.m. He had remained active in show business even after undergoing an operation for rectal cancer in 1991, and heart surgery in June 2015.

Watari gained popularity on television for his roles in police drama series that began in the 1970s, such as "Dai Tokai" (The Big City) and "Seibu Keisatsu." He was also praised for his roles in movies about yakuza gangsters such as "Tokyo Drifter" and "Graveyard of Honor."

Watari also recorded a number of songs, including the smash hit "Kuchinashi no Hana" (gardenia flower), and appeared in NHK period dramas.

The Hyogo Prefecture native was scouted while attending Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, and made his starring debut in 1965 in the film "Abare Kishido" (Wild Chivalry).

He appeared in many productions by major filmmaking company Nikkatsu, before joining a production company founded by fellow action star Yujiro Ishihara.

The veteran actor was part of the "Ishihara Gundan," meaning Ishihara Corps, in reference to actors who belong to Ishihara's talent agency. The company, Ishihara International Productions Inc., which was founded in 1963, will end its talent agency operations early next year.

日活アクション映画や刑事ドラマ「西部警察」で知られる俳優の渡哲也(わたり・てつや、本名渡瀬道彦=わたせ・みちひこ)さんが10日午後6時30分、肺炎のため死去した。78歳。兵庫県出身。14日に家族葬を行った。1991年に直腸がんを公表し手術、2015年6月には急性心筋梗塞で手術を受けたが、仕事に復帰していた。
News sources: Japan Today, Kyodo
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