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Nishizaki had fallen from the center starboard section of the 485-ton research steamboat Yamato, which was anchored in Futami Harbor's Ogiura area at the Chichi-jima island in the Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands). After a friend sent out a distress call at around 12:45 p.m., the Coast Guard surveillance boat Southern Cross brought Nishizaki into its sickbay about 10 minutes later. He was then rushed to the clinic at the town of Ogasawara by ambulance but was pronounced dead at 2:58 p.m., about two hours and 15 minutes after the fall.
According to the Coast Guard announcement, Nishizaki was wearing a wetsuit to go swimming when he fell from the boat and drowned. The boat had nine people aboard and it was 250 meters (about 820 feet) from the shore so that several people aboard could go swimming.
Nishizaki, whose birth name was Hirofumi Nishizaki, established a company to produce music and visual works in 1972, and he then produced the Space Battleship Yamato television anime series in 1974. That space opera story launched a franchise that continued with several television series and a string of hit films.
Just last year, Nishizaki produced Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection (Uchuu Senkan Yamato Fukkatsu-hen), the first film in 26 years from the long-running franchise. Part of the reason for the franchise's long dormancy was that Nishizaki, co-creator Leiji Matsumoto, and film distributor Tohokushinsha Film Corporation all claimed the right to make new Yamato anime at one time or another in the last two decades.
Nishizaki is also credited as a creator on the live-action Space Battleship Yamato, which just had private screenings in Tokyo and California this past week and will open in Japan next month. Nishizaki also planned the Maeterlinck's Blue Bird and Uchu Kubo Blue Noah television series, co-created Odin - Starlight Mutiny, and was a producer on Umi no Triton and Urotsukidoji.
Update 2: Mainichi Shimbun provides more information about the circumstances.
Update 3: Oricon, Infoseek Woman, and Evening Fuji provide more updated information. The seafaring Yamato was owned by Westcape Corporation, the company that Nishizaki headed and named after himself. ("Nishizaki" roughly means "west cape" in Japanese.) The company had bought the boat from a fishery school and had repaired for its first voyage, which was on Sunday.
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