Kenichi Takemura, a political critic and journalist known for his trademark pipe and frank opinions, died of multiple organ failure on Monday at a Tokyo hospital, his family said Thursday. He was 89.

Takemura started working at the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper in 1953 after graduating from Kyoto University. The Osaka Prefecture native later moved on to study in the United States under the Fulbright scholarship program.

Upon his return to Japan, he continued to work as a journalist for the Mainichi's English news section and also wrote introductory textbooks on the English language and scripts for radio programs.

He also served as an associate professor at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka.

Takemura began actively working as a political commentator from the late 1960s. He was featured on numerous television programs and gained popularity for his straightforward remarks on current affairs, delivered in his native Osaka dialect with a pipe hanging from his mouth.

His commentary spanned topics from domestic politics and international relations to business issues. He published over 500 books throughout his lifetime.

According to his family, Takemura enjoyed traveling and tennis after retiring at the age of 80. He was repeatedly hospitalized over the past two years.

"The hospital room was always full of laughter," his family said in a statement. "He surprised us with his resilience (and) passed away with his family beside him."