Singer Izawa Hachiro died yesterday from esophageal cancer at a Tokyo hospital. He was 69. Real name Kudo Kinichi, he was the father of Hollywood actress Kudo Yuki, who turned 36 yesterday. She wasn’t with him at the end but had visited him in the morning. She said on her official homepage that her father had done his best to hold on and help her celebrate her birthday. Izawa was first diagnosed with cancer in September 2005 and had been undegoing treatment. He was hospitalized since last November. He made his singing debut in 1963 and had his signature hit, “Aa Ueno Eki” the following year. He had two children, Yuki and former actor turned club DJ Kudo Masaki, with his first wife, Yukiko. They divorced in 1989 and he married voice actress Aoba Miyoko, 25 years his junior, in 1993. Kudo Yuki appeared in the 2005 hit “Memoirs of a Geisha” (Sayuri) and is currently filming “Rush Hour 3”.
• Hollywood stars visiting Tokyo this week include Leonardo DiCaprio (32), in town to promote his latest flick, Oscar contender “The Departed”. Martin Scorsese’s remake of the Hong Kong hit “Infernal Affair” won a Golden Globe award for best director earlier in the week. It opens here on January 20; Will Smith (38) presented Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (52) with a bottle of wine yesterday. The PM said he doesn’t drink but his wife is sure to enjoy it. He added that he has yet to see “The Pursuit of Happyness”, to which Smith urged him to be sure to bring some tissues!
• Coming soon is hip hop star Kanye West (29), who will join the local Teriyaki Boyz for a live performance on TV Asahi’s “Music Station” on January 26. last year saw appearances by The Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2 on the show, but both were in Japan for concerts. West, who was here in November, is scheduled to play shows from March 31 to April 3, but this month’s visit is simply in support of the Boyz. Together they’ll be performing “I Still Love H.E.R.” West is a personal friend of Boyz member and fashion guru Nigo (36), the founder of the A Bathing Ape brand.