He was a rebel.
Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died on March 28 at the age of 71, was one of Japan’s most internationally recognized musicians, celebrated as an electronic innovator, movie composer and sometime pop star. Yet he always resisted the role of national institution: an avuncular, unthreatening figure who could be wheeled out on major occasions to serenade the masses.
That wasn’t Sakamoto. Even as a child, he had shown an innate resistance to orthodoxy. As he recalled in a 2018 interview with the Financial Times, when his classmates were asked to write down their future ambitions, he demurred: “I was very sure I didn’t want to belong to anything. I just wanted to be individual.”