Very sad. I'd mentioned in my previous post that he collapsed on the field during pre-game fielding practice in Hiroshima on Friday, essentially with a stroke, and had been in a coma for the past several days with "very little hope of recovering". This morning, he passed away. He leaves behind a wife and three kids, and a host of Giants and Carp fans.
This is pretty much the only decent photo I ever took of him (I rarely get close enough to Giants players; this was during batting practice before a game in May 2008):
The saddest thing, to me, is that he would have turned 38 next week. That's just too young for a recently-retired baseball player to be dying of a stroke.
Mainichi has a photo gallery of his career here.
Nikkan Sports has the progression of his condition here.
The Japanese baseball cards blog has a bunch of cards over his career here.
I vaguely wonder if Takuya Kimura of SMAP will make any comments. Haven't seen any yet, but there was a long ongoing joke about their sharing the same name, and the Giants player even used "Kimutaku" as a nickname just like the SMAP guy.