James C. Lagier, who served as a bureau chief in the United States and Japan during a nearly four-decade career with The Associated Press, has died.

Lagier's niece, Sydney Lagier, said he died in Walnut Creek, California, after battling cancer. He was 80.

A native of Manteca, California, Lagier joined the AP in Honolulu in 1962 and retired in 2001 as chief of the Tokyo bureau. During his AP career, he flew on a B-52 bombing mission over Vietnam from Guam, worked on coverage of the assassination of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and supervised reporting about the 1995 Kobe earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people.

He also served as bureau chief in Columbus, Ohio, and San Francisco and was an executive in Boston and New York.