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Deaf Japanese composer may be neither deaf nor composer

The probably-not-scandal-prone world of contemporary Japanese classical music has been rocked by scandal this week. The renowned composer Mamoru Samuragochi has been called “Japan’s Beethoven” because of an alleged condition he claims has left him nearly deaf, but now Samuragochi has confessed to paying a “ghost composer” to write all of his pieces, the AFP reports. Samuragochi had formerly been credited with providing the bright, lush score for Capcom’s Samurai epic Onimusha: Warlords (which you can hear in the video below) and the ominous tones for the special orchestrated soundtrack added to the second release of the Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. In Japan, he’s more famous for his “Symphony No. 1, Hiroshima.” According to the AFP story, he gained more notoriety in Japan after the NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, aired a documentary about him in 2013, depicting Samuragochi’s trip to a Japanese region affected by the 2011 tsunami and subsequent Fukushima nuclear incident. “Viewers flocked in their tens of thousands to buy his Hiroshima piece, which became an anthemic tribute to the tsunami-hit region’s determination to get back on its feet, known informally as the symphony of hope,” the AFP writes.

According to a subsequent AFP story, Takashi Niigaki, a part-time music school teacher from Tokyo, has come forward as the real composer of all of these pieces and more. Niigaki says Samuragochi paid him the equivalent of $70,000 for more than 20 pieces over the 18 years that he’s been writing for him. Samuragochi, who has not yet responded to Niigaki’s claim, says he started paying his ghost composer because his ear condition was worsening and he needed the help. But Niigaki also claims that Samuragochi isn’t even deaf. “I’ve never felt he was deaf ever since we met,” he told the AFP. “We carry on normal conversations. I don’t think he is (handicapped). At first he acted to me also as if he had suffered hearing loss, but he stopped doing so eventually. He told me, after the music for the video games was unveiled, that he would continue to play the role (of a deaf person).” Niigaki also said he was compelled to put a stop to the fraud after hearing the news that Daisuke Takahashi, a Japanese figure skater, was set to perform to a Samuragochi piece during the Sochi Winter Olympics. Niigaki’s brave move has prevented the Sochi Games from being tainted by any trace of fraud.

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