Keizo Takahashi, a former popular announcer at NHK and ex-member of the House of Councilors, died Thursday night of kidney failure at a hospital in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, his family said Friday. He was 83.

Takahashi, a native of Iwate Prefecture, joined NHK in 1942 and later gained popularity by hosting the radio program “Watashi Wa Dare Desho” (“Who am I?”) and the TV show “Watashi No Himitsu” (“My Secret”).

After serving as a host of NHK’s popular music show “NHK Kohaku Utagassen” (“Kohaku Song Contest”) from 1953 to 1961, Takahashi quit NHK and became a freelance announcer.

He hosted major TV shows and was considered a pioneer in the business for leaving an established television network to strike out on his own.

Takahashi was the third son of a traditional textile shop owner in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture. It was rare at the time for someone from outside the Tokyo area to become an announcer.

He often said he considered famous announcer Teru Miyata, who also joined NHK in 1942 and later became a lawmaker, as his main rival.

Though well-informed, Takahashi prepared thoroughly for his news broadcasts, doggedly focusing on the main points.

Takahashi was elected to the Upper House in 1977 for a six-year term.

He also served as director of the welfare volunteer group Niji no Kai (Rainbow Group), which was set up by entertainers.

In 1988, he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the government.

Hideki Nakazono

Hideki Nakazono, one of Japan’s pioneer writers of spy fiction, died Tuesday of pneumonia at a hospital in Kawasaki, his family said. He was 81.

Nakazono, who wrote under the pseudonym Eisuke Nakazono, began writing novels while working for a Japanese-language newspaper in Beijing.

A native of Fukuoka Prefecture, Nakazono published novels, essays and reports — several of which earned him the title of Japan’s pioneer writer of international spy fiction — after returning to Japan.

His novel “Rachi” (“Abduction”) deals with the abduction of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and has been made into a film, “KT,” to be released in May.

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