A publicist for Ken Watanabe says the Tony- and Oscar-nominated actor has been forced to delay his return to Broadway's The King and I while he battles stomach cancer.

The 56-year-old Japanese actor, who made his American stage debut last year opposite Kelli O'Hara in the revival of The King and I, was due to return to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from March 1-April 17.

Craig Bankey, Watanabe's press agent, said Tuesday the actor has undergone endoscopic surgery and is recuperating at a hospital in Japan. In a statement, the actor said: "I would like to ask for your understanding that the start of my performance in New York will be a little delayed."

Watanabe, who has been in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and Inception, also starred in the reboot of Godzilla and Letters From Iwo Jima and lent his voice to the fourth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction.

He earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in the Tom Cruise-led film The Last Samurai. The King and I is also nominated for a Grammy Award for best musical theatre album.

Word of the diagnosis was first reported by Kyodo News service