Veteran Japanese comedian Ken Shimura on Mon (30 Mar) passed away due to complications arising from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Shimura was hospitalized on 20 Mar after getting a fever and being diagnosed with severe pneumonia. Three days later, he tested positive for COVID-19.
A representative from Shimura’s agency told The Japan Times: “I don’t think he imagined he would die a death like this, and I am sure he was working hard with a sense of mission to deliver laughter to people.”
Shimura, born Yasunori Shimura, was also a one-time member of rock ’n’ roll band and comedy group The Drifters.
The surviving members of the Drifters — Cha Kato, 77, Boo Takagi, 87, and Koji Nakamoto, 78 — who also belong to the same agency were too “shocked” to issue a statement at this time, according to Shimura’s management.
Tweeting her condolences in Japanese, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on Mon: “Ken Shimura, thank you for bringing a lot of laughter and energy to Taiwanese across the border. It will surely make many people laugh in heaven. I pray for your happiness.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference today: “I pray for the repose of his soul … We are at a very critical period and need to make every effort to prevent the spread of this disease.”
NHK reported that Japan has recorded 1,800 infections and 55 mortalities as of Sun afternoon (29 Mar).
This excludes the 712 cases and 10 deaths from a cruise ship that was moored near Tokyo last month, NHK said.
Shimura’s death also made headlines outside Japan, with international news agency Reuters dubbing him as “one of the country’s best-known comedians”.