Resident Evil and Onimusha composer Mamoru Samuragochi has admitted hiring someone else to write his music for nearly two decades, according to the Japan Times.
The 50-year-old, dubbed the "Japanese Beethoven", lost his hearing completely at the age of 35 but continued to work using what he calls his "absolute pitch". In Japan he is most famous for Hiroshima Symphony No 1, which he dedicated to those killed in the 1945 atomic blast, but gamers know him best for his work on Capcom's Resident Evil and Onimusha.
According to Samuragochi's promotional website, he composed the music for 1997's Resident Evil: The Director's Cut, called Biohazard in Japan, while hiding "his severe hearing disability and living under harsh conditions".
Then in 1999, just before he started composing the music for 2001's Onimusha: Warlords, he completely lost his hearing, he said. "However the piece he composed, Symphony, Rising Sun, was highly acclaimed and was noticed by the public as a masterpiece," the promotional website claims.
Now, it turns out, Samuragochi paid for commissions while giving the ideas for his work to another mystery composer - despite describing himself as the "sole composer" over the years.
His solicitor apologised on behalf of his client, saying Samuragochi was "deeply sorry as he has betrayed fans and disappointed others".
"He knows he could not possibly make any excuse for what he has done. He is mentally distressed and not in a condition to properly express his own thoughts."
Samuragochi is quoted by Japanese broadcaster NHK as saying he first hired the mystery aid to compose music for him in 1996 "because the ear condition got worse".
So why come clean now? It appears the revelation emerged after NHK aired a documentary about Samuragochi last year in which he toured the tsunami-affected Tohoku region. NHK has now apologised for airing the film. "Through his lawyer, Mamoru Samuragochi confessed that he had asked another composer to create his iconic works," an NHK presenter said.
"NHK has reported on him in news and features programs but failed to realise that he had not composed the works himself, despite our research and checking."