Those in Japan who knew Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo expressed shock Friday at news of his death, saying he was a noble man who dedicated his life to pursuing liberal democratic reform.

"I wanted him to live a little longer — at least until the end of his prison term," said journalist Seiichiro Aso, who has penned many books on democratic movements in China. "It's really regrettable."

Recalling the times he met Liu in person in 2006 and 2008, Aso said the lifelong activist was a noble yet friendly and open person.