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Japanese actor Kenichi Hagiwara dies at age 68

Kenichi Hagiwara, pictured on April 26, 2005. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Kenichi Hagiwara, a Japanese actor and vocalist in a pop band in the 1960s, died from gastrointestinal stromal tumors at a hospital in Tokyo, his office said Thursday. He was 68.

    Hagiwara, more widely called "Shoken," appeared in a number of movies and other works, including Akira Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" in 1980 and a detective television series "Taiyo ni Hoero!" (Bark at the Sun) that ran in the 1970s and 1980s. He is well remembered for playing outlaw characters.

    Prior to his acting career, Hagiwara made his name as the lead singer of The Tempters debuting in 1967. The five-member group produced popular hits like "Kamisama Onegai!" (Please God!).

    But he was also hit by scandals, including being arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis and of attempted blackmail over performance fees.

    Hagiwara, a native of Saitama Prefecture whose real name was Keizo Hagiwara, had fallen ill from 2011, according to his office.

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