Japanese star Masaharu Fukuyama, a long-time bachelor, marries

Cinema still of Midsummer's Equation starring Masaharu Fukuyama.
Cinema still of Midsummer's Equation starring Masaharu Fukuyama.PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

TOKYO - Actor-singer Masaharu Fukuyama, one of the most eligible bachelors in Japan, married actress Kazue Fukiishi on Monday, their agencies said.

They registered their marriage on her 33rd birthday, Fukuyama, 46, wrote in a statement. Starting out as friends, they dated for several years, he said.

"I gradually feel we have become able to assist and support each other's life," he was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "I am hoping we will receive support from our fans and staff to create a happy family."

Fukiishi said in her statement: "I want to build a loving family filled with smiles."

The songwriter did not mention wedding plans and whether his bride is pregnant.

He debuted in 1990 with the single Tsuioku No Ame No Naka, and among his best-known songs is Sakura Zaka. He is a top-selling male artiste in Japan with sales of more than 21 million copies.

He starred as a brilliant but eccentric physics professor in the acclaimed television series Galileo. He also starred in director Hirokazu Koreeda's switched-at-birth drama Like Father, Like Son, which won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Fukiishi started her acting career at age 13. She has been in TV dramas and films including director Sion Sono's 2005 horror movie Noriko's Dinner Table.

The couple's romance was rumoured in 2011, when she was photographed going to his apartment with her pet rabbit, but their agencies denied it.

They first met in 2001, according to online reports, when Fukiishi, then 18, graduated from high school. Photography buff Fukuyama was then invited by a magazine to take pictures of her for a commemorative graduation shoot, said Hong Kong's Apple Daily.

He praised her, saying she was charming. In 2010, they met again at a gathering of friends. Talk that he was preparing to marry emerged early this year, when he left a late-night radio show he had hosted for more than 20 years, Apple Daily said. Fans also noticed an emphasis on family themes in his recent songs.