Hiroshima will take back award given to native son Samuragochi

Kyodo

In the wake of the revelation that native son Mamoru Samuragochi did not compose musical scores for which he was credited, the city of Hiroshima has decided to take back an award it gave to him in 2008.

It came to light this week that not only did Samuragochi have a ghostwriter, but he is not even deaf, one of the reasons for his fame, according to the ghostwriter.

The Hiroshima Citizen’s Award, presented to people who have contributed to the city by fueling the hopes and dreams of other citizens, will be vacated for the first time since it was established in 2002.

“I am really disappointed as he was born and raised in Hiroshima,” said Mari Takeuchi, head of the city’s cultural promotion division, which nominated Samuragochi for the prize.

Samuragochi is best known for his Hiroshima Symphony, which was purported to express his thoughts about survivors of the Aug. 1945 atomic bombing of the city. He himself is the son of hibakusha.

“The only thing I can say right now is that I’m shocked,” Takeuchi said.

Takashi Niigaki, a part-time lecturer at a music college who revealed that he had written the music credited to Samuragochi, also said that the now-famous Hiroshima Symphony was originally composed under a different name. The piece, which was released in 2011, was initially titled “Modern Liturgy,” he said.

According to Niigaki, Samuragochi asked him to compose an orchestral piece in a year. Samuragochi’s instructions included a demand that he “pursue only artistic value that will be passed on to future generations.”

“I was really surprised when I learned the same piece was performed under the name of Hiroshima a few years later,” Niigaki said Thursday in a news conference in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Kazushi Orimoto, a lawyer for Samuragochi, countered Niigaki’s comment that the composer “has normal hearing.” Orimoto said he believes Samuragochi is deaf.

“I have checked his disability identification papers, which say he has ‘second-degree’ hearing impairment,” Orimoto said, claiming that Samuragochi communicated with Niigaki through lip-reading. The second-degree impairment is the severest grade given by the government, meaning the person has lost all hearing in both ears.

Orimoto added he is discussing copyright issues with the lawyer representing Niigaki, who has said he will not claim credit for the works he provided to Samuragochi.