VIENNA, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday that its Director General Yukiya Amano has passed away.

"The Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency regrets to inform with deepest sadness of the passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano," the IAEA said in a statement.

The 72-year-old Japanese had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009. He had been preparing to leave his position in March, well before the end of his third four-year term, which ran until 2021.