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Novelist Shusaku Endo Dies at 73

September 29, 1996 GMT

TOKYO (AP) _ Shusaku Endo, a Catholic novelist who wrote about moral dilemmas and the difficulties of reconciling his Western faith with Japanese ideas, died Sunday. He was 73.

Endo, who also wrote humorous works, had received virtually every major literary award in Japan, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Keio University Hospital, where Endo died, did not release the cause of his death. Kyodo News said he died of complications from hepatitis after he had been unconscious for about a week. He had been hospitalized since June 22 with kidney trouble.


Endo received Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize for ``Shiroi Hito″ (White People) in 1955, describing conflicts of good and evil in humans.

In ``Umi to Dokuyaku,″ published in English as ``The Sea and Poison″ in 1972, he lashed out at the lack of moral conscience that allowed Japanese doctors in World War II to dissect a captured American pilot while he was still alive. The main character is an accomplice through his silence.

``Chimmoku,″ published in English as ``Silence″ in 1969, was a study of the persecution of 17th century Japanese Christians.

Born in Tokyo, Endo lived as a child in northeastern China until 1933. A Catholic aunt persuaded him to be baptized at the age of 11. Later, he likened the ceremony to donning an ill-fitting suit of Western-style clothing.

He was the first Japanese to study in France after World War II, spending 2 1/2 years in Lyon studying modern Catholic literature.

Frequent respiratory ailments led to removal of one of his lungs in 1961, and Endo set many of his works in hospitals.

He later wrote about his ideas for humanizing Japan’s medical care.

``The medical profession treats disease, but it shows almost no concern about alleviating the patient’s distress or feelings of isolation,″ he said.

Like hospital patients, many of Endo’s characters were those affected by decisions, rather than being decision makers.

``I myself have never been in a position of strength,″ he once said.

Funeral services were scheduled Wednesday at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Tokyo. Endo is survived by his wife Junko and a son.