Drama playwright Kohei Tsuka dies of lung cancer at age 62

Kyodo News

Playwright Kohei Tsuka, who created popular dramas, including “Kamata Koshinkyoku,” died of lung cancer Saturday at a hospital in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, his family said Monday. He was 62.

Tsuka, also a stage director and fiction writer, announced in January he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was undergoing treatment.

A South Korean resident of Japan who hailed from Fukuoka Prefecture, Tsuka started his drama pursuits while he was a student at Keio University and won the Kunio Kishida Prize for his play “Atami Satsujin Jiken” in 1974.

He set up a troupe office in 1974 and his well-timed, humorous plays were big hits during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Tsuka won the Naoki literary prize in 1982 for the novelization of “Kamata Koshinkyoku,” which was also made into a movie by director Kinji Fukasaku.

He set up a troupe in cooperation with Kita Ward, Tokyo, in 1994 and another in cooperation with the city of Oita in 1995, while holding drama seminars in Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido.

Tsuka was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2007 for his contributions to the arts.