Olympic composer who denied war crimes has died at 90

Olympic composer who denied war crimes has died at 90


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2021

The Japanese composer of the Dragon Quest theme died on Sptember 30 of sepsis.

Koichi Sugiyama wrote more than 500 pieces of music for the Dragon Quest series, including its iconic main theme which was played at the opening of this year’s Tokyo Olympica Games.

Sugiyama held reactionary and revisionist political views.

He denied Japanese war crimes in China and Korea and backed a Washington Post advertisement calling on Governments to derecognise the claims of Korea’s so-called ‘comfort women for an apology and compensation.


  • Hilary says:

    the music is also rather stiff/reactionary, even judged within the limitations of the remit.

  • James Weiss says:

    Unlike Germany, Japan has never truly reckoned with its war crimes and atrocities during World War 2. Their history books are rife with depictions of Japan as the victim and they have used the atomic bombs of August 1945 as a shield against criticism of their atrocious war record. It’s long past time for them to be called out on this.

    • marcus says:

      yes, odd that the Japanese were the equal of the Nazis in terms of very bad things (Check out unit 731 if you need proof) and yet it’s all “Not me Guv, nothing to see here” when it came to admitting their crimes

    • LE says:

      Care to elaborate? These types of political views are held only by extreme right people in Japan, and Japan has made countless formal and informal apologies both by the government and the emperor, as well as reparations to neighboring countries. Current right wing government has tried to revise history, especially in reference to certain historical events, but their efforts have been criticized widely in Japan.

      Therefore, to say Japan has “never truly reckoned with its war crimes” is not accurate, and neither is “It’s long past time for them to be called out on this” since they have been, from within and without. I think more needs to be done as well, but the way you summarize the situation is reductive and inaccurate.

      • V. Lind says:

        The International Military Tribunal for the Far East tried and sentenced a number of people, some by execution. Many other trials were held throughout the Far East, and many perpetrators were executed while others got varying sentences. No more than Germany did all who deserved punishment get it, but to say they have not been called to account is hardly true.

      • peter san paolo says:

        he was absolutely right. the feeding frenzy of moral outrage is always biased..what of Chinese atrocities in north Korea during Tang? no nation should be subjected to perpetual servitude for their past failings. The Japonese made good on their errors at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Case closed.

        • David A says:

          What errors in Nagasaki and Hiroshima?? They were simply bombed. I’m afraid you’ve got things mixed up. And I agree nobody should have to atone perpetually, but they do need to sufficiently compensate for their failings. It isn’t a question of who’s worse than the other, it’s about everyone being accountable.

  • Although I can’t recall anything Nuremberg trials happening in Japan, it all seems rather too late in 2021 🙁