Japan's Koji Yakusho to Receive Excellence in Asian Cinema Award

'The Blood of Wolves' film still - H 2018
Courtesy of Tokyo International Film Festival

The veteran actor will be honored at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on March 17.

Japanese actor Koji Yakusho will be given the Excellence in Asian Cinema Award, the Asian Film Awards Academy (AFAA) announced Wednesday.

"I am very honored to receive the Excellence in Asian Cinema Award," said Yakusho. "It has been 40 years since I started my acting career, and it’s a miracle that I am still able to pursue this profession. I am also indebted to all the people who have inspired me throughout my life."

"Over his prolific career, Mr. Yakusho has made an indelible impression on audiences and his professional peers around the world," said Wilfred Wong, chair of AFAA and the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society. "His talent for playing a wide variety of characters in films and TV in Japan and overseas testify to his commitment and dedication to the art and craft of acting."

The veteran actor has won more than 20 awards playing a wide range of roles during his four-decade career and was nominated for best actor at the Japan Academy Prize for seven years consecutively during the 1990s.

After making his name on television playing a samurai warlord in public broadcaster NHK's yearlong historical "Taiga" drama Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1983, he has gone on to be cast by nearly every leading Japanese director, including Juzo Itami in Tampopo in 1986.

Yakusho found international recognition in the 1990s with Masayuki Suo's Shall We Dance? in a role reprised by Richard Gere in the Hollywood remake, as well as Cannes' Palme d'Or winner The Eel by Shohei Imamura. In the mid-2000s he appeared in two international productions: Memoirs of a Geisha and Babel.

He played the accused in 2017's The Third Murder, by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters) and a tough detective from an organized crime squad in The Blood of Wolves by Kazuya Shiraishi last year. The Blood of Wolves has been nominated in 12 categories for next month's Japan Academy awards, behind only Palme d'Or winner Shoplifters with 13. Yakusho is also nominated for best actor for the film at the Asian Film Awards, his third nomination in the category.

A retrospective of Yakusho's work was screened at last year's Tokyo International Film Festival.

The AFAA also announced that South Korean vocalist, songwriter and actor Jae-joong Kim will receive the Next Generation Award.

The 13th Asian Film Awards will be held at Hong Kong’s TVB City on March 17.