Shochiku chairman Nagayama dies

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TOKYO -- The chairman of Japanese film and television production company Shochiku died Wednesday in Tokyo.

Takeomi Nagayama, 81, joined the company in 1947 and is credited with preserving the traditional Japanese stage entertainment of kabuki before going on to oversee the company's expanding business.

Recognized by the government for his contribution to Japanese culture, including its promotion overseas, Nagayama was a recipient of the Kikuchi Kan prize.

Made director of the company at the age of 42, he was promoted to president in 1984 and was instrumental in stepping up distribution of domestic and foreign films, global sales and video releases, as well as producing films and television programs.

A high-point of his career was the 2004 nomination of director Yoji Yamada's "The Twilight Samurai" for best foreign- language film at the Academy Awards. It was the first live-action film from Japan to be nominated in 22 years.

Nagayama died of leukemia and funeral rites have been scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Shochiku officials said.
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