Sci-fi pioneer Komatsu dies at age 80


Sakyo Komatsu, Japan’s leading science fiction author, died Tuesday of pneumonia at a hospital in Minoo, Osaka Prefecture, people close to him said Thursday. He was 80.

Komatsu, whose real name was Minoru Komatsu, started his career in the 1960s and became a pioneer of science fiction writing in Japan. His bestselling disaster novel, “Nippon Chimbotsu” (“Japan Sinks”), was turned into a movie and published overseas.

The science fiction novel is about tectonic movements that eventually submerge the entire Japanese archipelago and the response of the Japanese people.

The prizewinning author was also a high-profile critic who had unique perspectives on mankind and civilization. He was also involved in organizing the Japan World Exposition in Osaka Prefecture in 1970.

According to his office, just before he died, Komatsu said Japan “will certainly overcome this crisis (caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami). I think Japan will certainly be able to realize a utopia. I believe in Japan and the Japanese people.”

Komatsu, who was born in Osaka and raised in nearby Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, studied Italian literature at Kyoto University, while working on a magazine with classmates. After graduating, he worked at various jobs, including as a magazine reporter and a writer for stand-up comedy acts.