Ersatz Beethoven 'sorry' for deception

JAPAN - Mamoru Samuragochi, who was supposedly a deaf composer, but whose works were actually written by another person, apologised at a press conference at a Tokyo hotel Friday.

"I'm sorry for telling lies that caused so much trouble," Samuragochi, 50, said. He also said he had returned his physical disability certificate booklet to the municipal government of Yokohama, where he lives.

It was the first press conference he has held since his scandal came to light.

Prior to the conference, Samuragochi distributed to the press handouts, which he said were copies of a medical certificate showing the results of a reexamination of his hearing ability.

According to the medical certificate, he was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, which is not defined as a hearing disability in accordance with the Law for the Welfare of Physically Disabled Persons.

At the press conference where more than 300 members of the press gathered, Samuragochi appeared in a suit, but with his trademark long hair cut short and without his usual pair of sunglasses.

He expressed his apologies in a tearful voice and bowed many times, mentioning the names of people for whom he had caused problems.

In a statement of apology released on Feb. 12, he confessed his hearing ability had recovered to some extent since three years ago.

On this point, he said: "I already announced that I regained part of my hearing ability and I was able to hear people talk. This remark caused a misunderstanding that I could hear as much as healthy people. I hear words, but I cannot hear people's conversations. It is true that I need a sign-language interpreter."

An interpreter was present at the press conference.

Regarding his relationship with Takashi Niigaki, 43, a part-time lecturer at Toho Gakuen College, Samuragochi said: "I paid money to Niigaki. I developed the overall designs and Niigaki wrote down the notes and completed the pieces. We have secretly worked together for 18 years. I made a mistake in using the shadow composer."

However, Samuragochi also made a comment that appeared to be shifting the blame, saying he could not understand why Niigaki revealed their secret at this particular moment.