Shoichi Kusano, chairman of Tokyo-based music publisher Shinko Music, died of pancreatic cancer on June 6.

Shoichi Kusano, chairman of Tokyo-based music publisher Shinko Music, died of pancreatic cancer on June 6. He was 74.

One of the pioneers of the Japanese music-publishing business, Kusano was perhaps best known under the pseudonym Kenji Sazanami, which he used when writing Japanese lyrics for many Western pop songs in the early 1960s.

Kusano was Shinko president for 21 years before becoming chairman of the company in 1999. That year saw him receive a Blue Ribbon Medal from the Japanese government in recognition of his lengthy service to the music industry. He was the first Japanese music publisher to receive the honor.

Kusano was also president of the Music Publishers Assn. of Japan from 1980-1992.

Shinko has represented such international catalogs as those of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Neil Sedaka and Bob Dylan. In 1996, it became the first Japanese publisher authorized to translate the lyrics of Irving Berlin into the local language.

A memorial service will be held at Tokyo's Grand Palace Hotel on July 12.

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