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On April 21, 2011, the actress and singer Yoshiko Tanaka, aka Sue from 1970s idol group the Candies, died after a relapse of the cancer that she had been living with for 20 years. A tragedy, at the relatively young age of 55, and one that comes during a period of deep soul-searching for the Japanese music business.

While the music industry now struggles amid declining sales, dynamic Korean imports, and the uncertain conditions following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Tanaka and the Candies, despite only being active for five years between 1973 and ’78, have become icons of what is commonly regarded as the “golden age” of Japanese pop music — kayoukyoku, as it was then known.

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