Masao Kunihiro, a former Diet member and renowned interpreter who conducted simultaneous interpretation during the live TV broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, died of natural causes Tuesday evening at a Tokyo nursing care facility. He was 84.
A Tokyo native, Kunihiro, dubbed the “God of simultaneous interpretation,” not only gained prominence for his language work, but was also a newscaster on a private TV station and taught at universities in Japan. He also served as a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Kunihiro published over 100 books on topics ranging from English education to foreign relations. He translated numerous publications and books, including David Crystal’s “English as a Global Language.”
He was appointed Prime Minister Takeo Miki’s official aide and adviser in the 1970s.
Kunihiro was elected to the Upper House in 1989 under the proportional representation system, serving one term as a lawmaker from what was then known as the Socialist Party of Japan, now the Social Democratic Party.
Kunihiro lived in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.
A private funeral will be held by Kunihiro’s family, and a memorial gathering is planned at a later date.