to hiring a ghost composer as far back as 1996, a move he attributed to degenerative hearing loss that left him deaf by age 35.
During the hour-long press conference, Niigaki said he didn't believe Samuragochi was deaf, and he "cannot even write musical scores."
"I've never felt he was deaf ever since we met," Niigaki said, as reported by AFP. "We carry on normal conversations. I don't think he is (handicapped). At first he acted to me also as if he had suffered hearing loss, but he stopped doing so eventually. He told me, after the music for the video games was unveiled, that he would continue to play the role (of a deaf person)."
Niigaki said he had been paid 7 million yen ($70,000) over 20 years of working with Samuragochi, during which he composed 20 pieces. Niigaki said he tried to end this working relationship "a few times," but he claimed Samuragochi threatened suicide if Niigaki stopped composing for him. When Niigaki learned a Winter Olympic hopeful, Daisuke Takahashi, would figure skate to a piece credited to Samuragochi, Niigaki severed ties, he said.
"I am an accomplice of Samuragochi because I continued composing just as he demanded, although I knew he was deceiving people," Niigaki said.
[Image: AFP, Yoshikazu Tsuno]