Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, known internationally for films such as "Empire of Passion," "In the Realm of the Senses" and "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," died of pneumonia at a hospital south of Tokyo, NHK television said Tuesday. He was 80.

Oshima during the 1960s was one of the emblematic figures of "new wave" cinema in Japan.

The moviemaker was married to actress Akiko Koyama, who was by his side at the time of his death, NHK reported.

Oshima had suffered a stroke in 1996 that paralyzed him and forced him to undergo a long rehabilitation, although in 1999 he returned to directing with the film "Taboo" (Gohatto), which was his last feature-length project.

In the '60s, he consolidated his position as one of the figures most critical of the society and politics of his time, which he denounced harshly in films that often had rebellious or criminal characters as their protagonists.

But it was "The Realm of the Senses" (1976) that made him well-known internationally.

The film, with a heavy sexual content, was censored in Japan and rejected at the New York Film Festival, but it received the Cannes Film Festival's International Award and broad global recognition.

Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival announced in November that at its 2013 edition Oshima will be the subject of a retrospective that will gather together all his big screen features. EFE