Donald Keene, a distinguished scholar of Japanese literature, has died at the age of 96. He died of heart failure on Sunday morning in a hospital in Tokyo.
Keene was born in New York in 1922 and first studied the Japanese language in the US Navy. After World War Two, he enrolled at Kyoto University to study Japanese literature.
For over 50 years, Keene was professor of Japanese literature at Columbia University in New York, inspiring students with his passion for his field. He is known for introducing Japanese culture internationally through his translations of classical and modern Japanese literature.
He personally knew a number of great Japanese writers, including Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima. Keene is known for offering his advice to the Swedish Academy which selects the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In 2008 Keene was awarded the Order of Culture, the country's highest cultural award.
After the 2011 quake and tsunami disaster in Japan, Keene left New York and permanently moved to Japan in a show of solidarity with those affected. In March the following year, he became a Japanese citizen.
In recent years Keene had been continuing his work. According to his agent, he had been in and out of hospital since last fall.