Ryuichi Sakamoto Reveals He Has Stage 4 Cancer

The composer was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2021

Ryuichi Sakamoto stage 4 cancer rectal throat essay electronic classical music news
Ryuichi Sakamoto

    Ryuichi Sakamoto is currently battling stage 4 cancer, the Japanese musician revealed in an essay published Tuesday.

    Sakamoto, 70, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and rectal cancer in 2021, but had previously offered few details about either cancer’s severity. Writing for the Japanese literary magazine Shincho (via Japan Times) this week, the legendary composer, pianist, and Yellow Magic Orchestra member revealed that he underwent surgery last October and December to remove cancer that had spread to both lungs. Stage 4 typically indicates that a patient’s prognosis is poor.

    Sakamoto shared the news in an article titled Living with Cancer, the first in a series of essays titled How Many More Times Will I See the Full Moon? in which he discusses his late era musical career and how it intersects with his views on humanity. He added: “Since I have made it this far in life, I hope to be able to make music until my last moment, like Bach and Debussy whom I adore.”


    Despite his diagnoses, Sakamoto has continued working frequently over the past few years. In 2017, he shared the solo album async and contributed to the soundtracks for The Revenant and Call Me By Your Name. In 2019, he scored Luca Guadagnino’s short film The Staggering Girl, and reissued his iconic 1978 album Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto outside of Japan for the first time.