Japanese actress, singer Yoshiko Tanaka dies at 55

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Yoshiko Tanaka

Yoshiko Tanaka

Actress Tanaka Yoshiko, a former member of the Japanese pop idol group Candies, died Thursday night at a Tokyo hospital of breast cancer. She was 55.

Tanaka provided the voice of Kuniko Mitsuya in the 2006 anime feature film Brave Story, an adventure-mystery.

Her first major role was as the star of Imamura Shohei’s 1989 film Kuroi Ame (Black Rain). Her portrayal of Yasuko won her the Award of the Japanese Academy, the Blue Ribbon Award, the Hochi Film Award, the Kinema Junpo Award, and the award of the Mainichi Film Concours. The film itself received a technical jury prize at Cannes.

She was born Yoshiko Odate in Tokyo’s Adachi neighborhood on April 8, 1956. In 1972, she — along with Ito Ran and Fujimuri Miki — passed an audition on an NHK music show. This spurred the trio to debut as Candies; in 1973, they released their first single, “Anata ni Muchu,”

While a member of Candies, Tanaka was known by the nickname “Sue.” Still at the height of its popularity, the group disbanded in 1978.

Afterward, Tanaka returned to show business as an actress. Her films included Godzilla vs. Biollante, in which she played Asuka Okouchi. Among her TV credits were the Churasan series and Ie Naki Ko.

She married Odate Kazuo, the older brother of the late actress Natsume Masako, in 1991.

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