OSAKA (Kyodo) Pop music producer Tetsuya Komuro pleaded guilty Wednesday in court to concluding a contract to sell music copyrights he did not own and swindling an investor out of ¥500 million.

Komuro, 50, will seek a lenient ruling from the Osaka District Court by compensating the victim for damages by the time the ruling is handed down, sources close to him said.

“I’m a musician,” a pale Komuro said in a small voice when the presiding judge asked what his occupation is.

On the indictment, Komuro told the court, “It is basically correct.

“I apologize to the victim for causing him an enormous amount of trouble,” Komuro said. “I will pay compensation in a sincere manner.”

Komuro is accused of concluding a contract in July 2006 with the investor from Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, to sell 806 songs for ¥1 billion.

He accepted an advance payment of ¥500 million from the investor the next month, despite being aware that the songs, most of which he had written, no longer belonged to him.

Prosecutors said in their opening statement that Komuro’s annual income had reached ¥1 billion around 1996, but that his debts amounted to some ¥1.8 billion by 2005 due to borrowing from banks and payment of consolation money following a divorce.

Those huge liabilities prompted Komuro to borrow money at a high interest rate, including a loan with 24 percent annual interest, the prosecutors said.

As a result, Komuro had to pay back ¥30 million every month, which finally motivated him to commit the crime, the prosecutors alleged.

Before the opening of the trial, 1,034 people lined up to vie for just 61 courtroom seats, while about 150 reporters watched Komuro enter the court shortly after 7:30 a.m.

“I’m sorry to the public that I caused a disturbance,” Komuro said, and repeatedly bowed to the reporters before he entered the court.

Komuro had dyed blond hair when arrested 2 1/2 months ago, but he showed up at the court Wednesday with short, dark-colored hair.

Komuro, once widely popular in Japan and other parts of Asia, raised a fortune by producing a string of pop hits in the 1990s.

He was a superstar during this period and a number of artists dominated Japan’s music scene with his songs.

The hits included Namie Amuro’s “Can You Celebrate?” and Misato Watanabe’s “My Revolution.”

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