Hira was born in Hiroshima City in November 1933 and joined the 5th batch of the Gekidan Haiyuza in 1953 after graduating from senior high school. Three years later, he became a member of the theatre group and had participated in many dramas, movies and stage plays over the years. Hira was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal in 1998 and the Order of the Rising Sun in 2005. His most recent appearance was in the FujiTV Autumn 2016 drama "Cain to Abel" as the grandfather of the characters played by Yamada Ryosuke and Kiritani Kenta.
Hira got married to actress Sakuma Yoshiko in 1970 and had a son and daughter but the couple divorced in 1984. Their son Hira Takehiro is also an actor. Hira underwent surgery for lung cancer before and had made a full recovery.
UPDATE: Adding some new information from news reports today ~
- It was his son Hira Takehiro who discovered his father's body. Apparently, Hira Mikijirou's agency tried to contact him on 22nd Oct but to no avail so Takehiro went to his father's place on the following day's evening to check on him. His reason of death is unknown at the moment.
- Hira Takehiro has a twin sister. At the time of Hira Mikijirou's divorce, his reason given at that time was that he could not juggle work and family commitments at the same time.
- Hira had filmed up to Ep 2 for the FujiTV Autumn 2016 drama "Cain to Abel". The last time he participated in the filming was on 29 September but he didn't display any signs of illness or discomfort. His character is set to appear again in Ep 4 but there is no announcement yet on who might take over his role.
Hira's appearance in Ep 2 showing on 24 October will not be edited and there will be a telop run during the broadcast to mourn his passing.
- Hira was due to appear in a new stage play "Shi no Budou" from March next year at Theatre Cocoon. He had recently wrapped up the performances for the stage play "Cressida" which ran from September to 9th October and took on the lead role.
- Hira used to be good friends with the late Ninagawa Yukio who passed away in May this year. However, they fell out when Hira hid the fact that he underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1987 and quit a stage play without explaining the true reason. He even returned to work in just 40 days after the surgery. Nonetheless, the friends of 40 years reconciled much later and Hira even made a speech at Ninagawa's farewell ceremony where he said that they will meet again soon. His son Takehiro had just gotten married back in July this year.
Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo 1 / Yomiuri Hochi 1 / Sponichi 1 / Sanspo 2 / Yomiuri Hochi 2 / Sponichi 2