A famous composer celebrated as a "Japanese Beethoven" for creating hit symphonies despite his deafness has been exposed as a fraud, after confessing another musician wrote his most acclaimed works.
And in a surprise twist, the man who says he was the ghost-writer of the works, Takashi Niigaki, claimed in a press conference Thursday that he did not believe the acclaimed composer was deaf at all.
"I've never felt he was deaf ever since we met," said Niigaki. "We carry on normal conversations."
Niigaki told reporters in Tokyo that over the past 18 years he had been paid about 7 million yen (about $69,000) to write more than 20 pieces to order for popular classical composer Mamoru Samuragochi.
Niigaki, a teacher at the prestigious Toho Gakuen School of Music, said that at no stage did he believe Samuragochi was deaf, as the composer conversed with him normally, and provided critiques on the music he contracted him to write over the years.
"At first he acted to me also as if he had suffered hearing loss, but he stopped doing so eventually," said Niigaki.
"Later I found out that he cannot even write musical scores."
Samuragochi is hailed as an inspirational genius in Japan for having created immensely popular classical symphonies and video game scores, despite reportedly having been completely deaf for 15 years.
He claimed to rely on his perfect pitch to compose after losing his hearing, telling TIME magazine in a 2001 profile that "if you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart. Losing my hearing was a gift from God."
Niigaki said he had entered into the arrangement with Samuragochi lightheartedly, but subsequently grew concerned about the deception, and told Samuragochi he wanted out.
But he said Samuragochi told him he would commit suicide if he stopped composing for him.
Niigaki said he considered himself guilty of duping the public and wanted to come clean.
"I am an accomplice of Samuragochi because I continued composing just as he demanded, although I knew he was deceiving people," he said. "I can't fool the people any more."
The office for Samuragochi's lawyers, Kazushi Orimoto and Mizuki Wakamatsu, told CNN they were unable to respond to Niigaki's claims.
But when approached by a reporter for Nippon Television, Orimoto said that the firm believed Samuragochi was indeed deaf, and had a government-issued certificate which confirmed his hearing impairment.
Earlier, they had issued a statement on behalf of Samuragochi, in which he apologized for having "betrayed fans" by having commissioned another composer to write his scores for years.
The confession is understood to have been prompted by Niigaki's impending exposure of the fraud in a tell-all interview with a Japanese news magazine.
In the statement, Samuragochi claimed he provided the broader ideas for the works, while the collaborator had produced the finished scores.