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Kokontei Shincho II, a master of “rakugo,” the traditional Japanese art of comic monologue storytelling, died Monday morning of liver cancer at his home in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, his family said. He was 63.

Shincho, whose real name was Kyoji Minobe, was the second son of the late Kokontei Shinsho V and was considered the premier rakugo artist of the Showa period (1926-1989). He was also hoped to become the leading figure of the next generation of the rakugo world.

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