Yakuza movie star Tsunehiko Watase, also known for playing a key role in the legendary TV drama “Oshin,” died at a hospital in Tokyo on Tuesday, his office said Thursday. He was 72.
Watase had been undergoing treatment after a tumor was found in his gall bladder in 2015. He died of multiple organ failure, his office said. Watase is the younger brother of actor Tetsuya Watari.
After making his starring debut in a 1970 film, Watase appeared in many gangster films produced by the Toei studio, including the popular series “Jingi Naki Tatakai” (“Battles Without Honor and Humanity”).
Watase, a native of Hyogo Prefecture, also appeared in numerous other films and TV programs over several decades. He earned praise for his role as the first love interest for the main character of public broadcaster NHK’s iconic morning drama “Oshin,” which aired in 1983 and 1984.