‘Deaf’ composer Samuragochi says he’s sorry for deceiving

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A month after the shocking revelation by his ghostwriter, the supposedly “deaf” composer Mamoru Samuragochi apologized Friday for deceiving people with his lies.

However, the 50-year-old from Hiroshima Prefecture flatly denied composer Takashi Niigaki’s claim that he is not deaf, saying he is preparing to sue Niigaki for defamation and will meet a lawyer next week.

Without his trademark sunglasses or a cane to walk with, short-haired Samuragochi — often dubbed a modern Beethoven — appeared in front of hundreds of reporters in Tokyo, saying he “swears to God to tell the truth.”

“I apologize for causing troubles because of my lies. I’m so sorry,” the son of Hiroshima A-bomb survivors told reporters in Tokyo, with a sign-language interpreter sitting in front of him.

Showing the results of a medical examination on his hearing, which the city of Yokohama, where he lives, asked him to take in the wake of the scandal, Samuragochi said he returned his physical disability certificate to the city.

Tests found that Samuragochi’s hearing difficulty did not match the level needed to receive the certificate. Samuragochi said he has never received any physical disability pensions.

“My hearing recovered to the level where I sometimes could hear (what people were saying) about three years ago,” he said. Samuragochi claimed previously that he was struck by deafness in his adulthood and was completely deaf by the age of 35.

But he said he still has some hearing impairment, explaining that he can hear sounds but cannot hear them as words because sounds get “distorted.”

He again “swore to God” for the fact he needs a sign language interpreter.

Samuragochi also slammed Niigaki’s claim that he never felt Samuragochi was deaf, saying Niigaki’s allegations about his hearing are “all lies.”

He said he and Niigaki communicated by writing at first, but then switched to lip reading. Reading Niigaki’s lips got easier as he became used to the way Niigaki speaks, Samuragochi said.

“I will sue Niigaki for defamation,” he said.

Taking out a copy of the Feb. 6 article in the Shunkan Bunshun weekly magazine, which ran Niigaki’s confession, he said everything he underlined in the copy is false.

Meanwhile, he admitted that Niigaki ghostwrote scores credited to Samuragochi for the past 18 years, including the famous Symphony No. 1, “Hiroshima,” released in 2011, and “Sonatina for Violin,” which figure skater Daisuke Takahashi used for his performance at the Sochi Olympics.

The existence of the ghostwriter was a secret between Niigaki and himself and nobody else knew about it, Samuragochi said.

Also, nobody knew about the fact his hearing had recovered just over three years ago, he said.

Although he voiced regrets for deceiving people many times in the past, he said “as my presence became bigger and bigger,” he couldn’t bring himself to come clean about the truth.

Asked about the royalties he has received for his music, Samuragochi only explained that only started to turn a profit after the start of this year.

He added that he paid Niigaki handsomely.

Asked about the amount, however, Samuragochi could not provide any figures.

Samuragochi said Niigaki routinely said no to his initial offer.

“When I showed him a guarantee after I explained about the contents of a score and its composition, he shakes his head at first. Then when I raise the guarantee, he goes ‘Hmm,’ making a sour face. Then when I raise the amount a little more, he smiles, saying ‘OK.’ That’s the truth of the past 18 years,” Samuragochi claimed.

For one symphony, Samuragochi said he paid ¥3 million, even though the market price for a standard score is around ¥800,000 to ¥1 million.

Last month, Niigaki said he had received roughly ¥7 million in payments from Samuragochi over the past 18 years.

  • phu

    This whole situation is just sad. I’m sure other people are appropriately angry about it; having not been aware of this person before the uproar started, I can only look at this and see a very nasty reflection of the level to which dishonesty like this gives so many people no pause at all until or unless they’re caught.

  • John Snow

    This shouldn’t have had as much attention. So what if he lied about his deafness. Or the fact that he didnt write the music. Cant people see him as a promoter instead? If didnt act like he was deaf would people even pay attention to his music? Was his music not good? I think the media just love kicking people when they are down. What scumbags. Look at all the microphones. Makes me wonder are there no better news to be covering? Like the TPP, China, Korea, Thailand, Ukraine, etc. There must be some more attention worthy news.

    • phu

      If didnt act like he was deaf would people even pay attention to his music?
      That’s kind of the point. He lied to get that attention.

      Was his music not good?
      That’s also part of the point: It was never his music!

      I think the media just love kicking people when they are down.

      They definitely do… and people love reading about it. But that doesn’t mean everything negative that comes out of any medium should be written off like this.

      Sure, there are other, more important things that could be written about. And people are writing about them. Does that mean we should ignore everything except the very most important news? And who decides what’s the most important?

      Perhaps you should consider it a good thing that other people with different priorities, or who just want some variety, can read about events like this. Otherwise someone would be telling them — and you — what is and isn’t important, and only giving them that information. I doubt you’d like that; I know I wouldn’t.