Traveling yakuza and 'Hissatsu' star Fujita dead at 76

OSAKA (Kyodo) Popular actor Makoto Fujita died from a ruptured artery Wednesday at Osaka University Hospital in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, his agent said Thursday. He was 76.

Fujita’s father, Rintaro Fujima, was a silent-film actor. Fujita, born in Tokyo in 1933, became a star in his own right as a leading member of the cast of “Tenamonya Sandogasa,” a TV comedy that ran from 1962 to 1968.

Fujita played a traveling yakuza in the popular program, while Minoru Shiraki, 75, portrayed a Buddhist monk.

Fujita, whose real name was Makoto Harada, starred as samurai Nakamura Mondo in the period drama “Hissatsu” (“Kill”) and in the contemporary detective drama “Hagure Keiji Junjoha” (“Rogue but Pure-Minded Detective”).

Fujita also appeared on stage and in film and sang. He starred in the 1993 musical “Zorba” and in the 1983 film “Tsumiki Kuzushi.”

He also appeared in a number of TV commercials.

In 2002, Fujita was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon, which is given to those who have made significant contributions to academia, the arts or sports.

Fujita canceled a stage appearance in 2008 as he battled esophageal cancer, and withdrew from a TV drama last November due to lung disease.

Last month, he came back as a narrator in the “Hissatsu” series.