Fifty-three year-old Oriza Hirata unexpectedly arrived early for our 9 a.m. interview in a Tokyo family restaurant one recent Sunday morning. Not only that, but the famed playwright and director turned up alone without the squad of minders such people's managers generally send along to stop them making headlines for reasons they wouldn't like.

Though he's a globe-trotting pillar of Japanese contemporary theater whose new opera "Umi, Shizukana Umi" ("Calm Sea") — about the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster — played the Staatsoper in Hamburg to great acclaim earlier this year, this renowned workaholic is also a guest professor at various universities and a counselor for cultural policy on numerous regional government committees.

When we met, though, Hirata's focus was firmly on "Nippon Support Center," his new play set to premiere June 23 at the Kichijoji Theatre in western Tokyo.