Japanese writer Jakucho Setouchi dies at 99

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Jakucho Setouchi

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese writer and Buddhist nun Jakucho Setouchi, whose wide-ranging works included autobiographical novels, biographies and historical fictions, died of heart failure at a hospital in Kyoto on Tuesday. She was 99.

Setouchi, born in the city of Toku- shima in 1922, made her debut as a writer in 1956. Her works crossed the genres of pure literature and popular novels.

She was awarded the “Joryu Bungaku Sho” (women’s literature prize) in 1963 for her novel titled “Natsu no Owari” (end of summer).

In 1973, at the age of 51, Setouchi entered the Buddhist priesthood at the Chusonji temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture. She established a base in Kyoto in the following year and actively conducted “howa” Buddhist sermons across Japan.

She was also known as a political and social activist. She fasted at the time of the 1991 Gulf War and the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

She was recognized as a Person of Cultural Merit in 1997, and was awarded the Order of Culture in 2006.

After the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami mainly in northeastern Japan and the subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Setouchi visited disaster-afflicted people and engaged in activities to seek the abandoning of nuclear power generation.