The former president and chairman of Toei, Yusuke Okada, passed away at age 71.
On November 18, Yusuke Okada was admitted to a Tokyo hospital and passed away at 10:58 PM JST due to an acute aortic dissection. Toei announced his passing today.
Born Tsuyoshi Okada in the Kyoto prefecture, Okada was a notable producer, director, and actor. He was scouted while he was still a student at the prestigious Keio University, with his acting debut in a 1969 TV drama. In 1970, he auditioned for Be Careful, Red Riding Hood and was cast as the lead role in the film over 5,500 other actors, all while hiding his identity as the son of the then-Toei head of production, Shigeru Okada. Later that same year, he signed a deal with Toei rival Toho to appear in multiple films annually. In 1975 he appeared in The 300 Million Yen Robbery and starred and produced in The Scream in 1976.
Okada joined Toei in 1998 and became president in 2002, then Toei Group Chairman in 2014, while also serving as chairman of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. This year, he became honorary chairman of Japan Academy. Okada had been head of production in the drama Depot of Life during his death, which is being directed by Izuru Narushima and stars Sayuri Yoshinaga, who has appeared in many films Okada has produced, including HEAVEN STATION, A Chaos of Flowers, and Year One in the North. Depot of Life is still in production and is aiming for a 2021 release.
When asked for comment, current Toei president Osamu Tezuka said, “This is sudden, but deeply sad and surprising news, and I am still in shock. This sad news is an enormous loss, not just for Toei but also for the film industry and Japanese culture as a whole.”
Yusuke Okada is the son of former Toei president and chairman Shigeru Okada, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. He is survived by his sister, Miyako Takagi, who is a professor at the Institute of Comprehensive Science at the University of Japan. Takagi will be acting as his chief mourner at his funeral and farewell gathering, both of which will be held at a later date.