Japanese actress, voice actress and TV presenter Kumiko Okae (Kumiko Owada) died Thursday at a Tokyo hospital from pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, after being rushed to hospital with a fever on April 3. She was 63 years old.
According to her management office, Okae’s condition is believed to have deteriorated due to her immune system being weakened by radiation therapy she received in January to treat early-stage breast cancer, following surgery.
Okae is known to Pokémon fans for voicing “Jenny” in the 2005 feature film Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. She also contributed her voice-over talents to the Nippon Animation’s 1997 movie adaptation The Dog of Flanders as Elina, Studio Ghibli’s The Cat Returns (2002) as Haru’s mother, Naoko. She also played Ryouko in the 2005 live-action series adaptation of Chikako Urano’s Attack No. 1 volleyball manga.
Born in Setagaya, Tokyo, Okae made her acting debut in the titular role of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television’s Omitsu in 1975 and appeared in numerous live-action series like family dramedy Ten Made Todoke, as well as entertainment and variety shows such as Japan Broadcasting Corporation’s Renso Game. She was also a host for Hanamaru Market morning show from 1996 to 2014.
Her recent credits include the 2017 mini-series My Lover’s Secret for NTV, and the Fuji TV detective drama Lucky Seven (2012-).
Okae was married to actor Baku Ohwada, with whom she had a daughter, Miho, also an actress.