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The Cultural Affairs Agency is looking into allegations that works by noted Italian artist Alberto Sughi were plagiarized by a Japanese painter who received a government award this spring, agency officials said.

Yoshihiko Wada, 66, has denied plagiarism, saying he produced the paintings under the same motifs as those of Sughi, 77, the officials said. Sughi told the agency that Wada’s pieces clearly plagiarized his works, they said.

The agency plans to analyze the works of Wada and Sughi and, if necessary, consult experts to examine if it needs to rethink the Minister of Education Award of Art award granted to Wada, they said.

The agency opened a probe after receiving an anonymous letter in May that Wada’s paintings are plagiarisms.

At least seven of Wada’s paintings from 1981 to 2004 are said to have close similarities to works by Sughi.

They were among works exhibited last year at museums in Tokyo and Mie and Ibaraki prefectures.

There are other paintings also said to be similar to works by Sughi.

In response to the agency’s questioning, Wada said that he and Sughi have been friends for a long time and that he told Sughi of his plans to produce paintings under the same motifs, according to the agency.

Wada also said anybody who sees the paintings would realize his and Sughi’s works are clearly different.

Sughi has told the agency he first learned of Wada producing paintings similar to his only after the agency consulted him about the works, the officials said.

Wada studied art in Italy in the 1970s after finishing studies at the graduate school of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

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