Japan's pop princess 'Ayu' goes half deaf: blog

TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki has revealed she has gone deaf in her left ear, but has vowed to continue her career and go ahead with an upcoming tour of Asia.

The 29-year old, who is Japan's top-selling singer with 28 number-one hits and nearly 50 million albums sold, wrote on her blog that her left ear "doesn't work anymore" and that it was inoperable.

She has known of her condition since going in for an ear check last year, according to her website.

Hamasaki, better known as "Ayu" with a large fanbase in Asia, is believed to be suffering tinnitus, which involves a ringing in the ear that can be caused by constant exposure to sound.

Tinnitus is the same condition that afflicted Ludwig van Beethoven, the famously deaf German composer.

"Nevertheless, I would like to continue as a singer. That's why I would like to continue singing until I reach the limit with my remaining right ear," she said on the members-only fansite, as quoted by Japanese media.

"I won't stop. I won't make excuses. As a professional, I would like to deliver the best performance for everyone," she wrote over the weekend.

Her agency declined comment on her hearing, other than to say that she would go ahead with her second tour of Asia starting in April.

"She will continue her activity as scheduled," said a spokesman for the agency, Avex.

Hamasaki released her ninth album, "Guilty," on January 1. She is due to launch a tour on April 5 to mark her 10th anniversary as a performer.

"It makes me cry to think that even if she's the only one who knows that she can't hear with her left ear, she has continued to sing and showed us her smiling face. That's what I love about Ayumi Hamasaki," wrote a fan on a webpage.

Hamasaki performed last month on the widely watched annual New Year's Eve television song contest broadcast by public network NHK.