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Free Noriko Sakai

Free Noriko Sakai

August 10, 2009

Team Néojaponisme are a-okay. Thanks for asking.

37 Responses

  1. Peter Says:


  2. Lex Says:

    I do find it irritating how the media can turn on and banish someone in this sort of situation.

    For those outside the sphere of the Japan media. Sakai’s husband has been arrested for possession of drugs and she has done a runner. She hasn’t been arrested (as far as I can tell) but the media have all but pronounced her guilty of, um… drug use I suppose.

    They are wheeling out footage of her prior to a TV interview acting a bit silly, and in a night club “moving left to right” while DJing – Evidence of drug use. She now has a tattoo on her ankle, the meaning of which is unknown. She has been looking thinner lately. Her skin has been a bit off colour… All this in hindsight. A doctor agrees with the strange behaviour diagnosis. A tattoo artist discusses the possible meaning of the tattoo. A night club “friend” says it’s probably all true.

    The picture painted is of a bad pro-surfer husband leading the once innocent idol astray. Perhaps the only way back will be to reappear (once any chemical evidence leaves her body?) and then publicly repent in the manner of Tsuyoshi Kusanagi.

  3. Robert Breen Says:

    Amphetamine… good enough for the 特攻隊 now venerated as 英霊 at Yasukuni… so why not for cute, hard-working entertainers?

    The Japanese party line on drugs sucks. What sucks more is that very few among the Japnese public even think to question it, it seems.

  4. Peter Says:

    Lex, she *has* been arrested. And she has admitted to doing X with her husband (at her self-proclaimed pro surfer husband’s recommendation) since last year.

    The “painted picture” is of a woman (who once showed up for anti-drug public service gigs, and is now appearing in a PR video for the newly rolled out lay judge system) running from the law, seemingly until she can figure out what the hell to do, or get any trace of drugs out of her own system, so when she finally reappears and the authorities take a sample of her nori-pee, she looks clean.

    Are we freeing Oshio as well?

  5. LG Says:

    Peter, Lex, your both right, but she might as well admit guilt, hard evidence (of which there is astonishingly little) counts for very little in Japan and she would save much more face by admiting guilt in the first place and playing for the sympathy vote.

    It sounds like everyone will get behind her, as is happening here, strings will be pulled, and some compromise will be worked out involving profuse public apologies and a period of “rehabilitation” etc. Bloody tarento, they live in an alternative Universe…

    When you consider there are national elections in a few weeks (for what its worth), North Korean nukes and the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this whole affair is, quite frankly, bollocks.

  6. LG Says:

    … and i love the logo :)

  7. Peter Says:

    It remains to be seen whether everyone will get behind her, but I do agree that “talents” live in an alternate universe of sorts.

    I am interested to see how much poking around the investigators and the mainstream media do, because Sakai is from a mob family, and she may or may not be connected to other MA using celebrities.

    I dunno, I don’t see her situation as easy to untangle as Mr. Kusanugi’s [sic]…

  8. W. David MARX Says:

    And she has admitted to doing X with her husband

    Meth. Japan’s drug of choice is meth. When they say “stimulant,” they mean meth. Thanks to yakuza being huge drug syndicates with their own offices in downtown Tokyo and Kobe, pure medical grade methamphetamines flow through Japan. If Japan really wants to stop people from using Hiropon — oops, I mean meth — they should probably pass laws to actually outlaw the crime syndicates providing it.

    Are we freeing Oshio as well?

    Last time I checked the body count from Oshio was 1, and Nori-P 0.

  9. Em Says:

    Marx —

    They DID outlaw the crime syndicates. What you mean is the cops should stop taking bribes from the crime syndicates. Or that Japan should wake up to the fact that despite pot being a heathen, foreign drug the real threat to Japan’s future are drugs the yakuza have always peddled in like meth and speed.

    As for Noriko, she’s frankly spineless and while I’m pretty liberal regarding my feelings toward drug laws I absolutely deplore people who can make a living so publicly living their lies as shames the way tv talents usually do. So many of the people in that world that I know do things the Japanese public would find morally deplorable and I’m not saying she should have thrown herself onto TV earlier and praised drug use, but these are the same people who constantly act scandalized by the minor transgressions or abnormalities in other peoples lives and the sheepish Japanese public live by their example. It’s frustrating to see, and the more of them who are exposed for the flawed, normal people they are the bigger reality check Japan can get.

  10. Peter Says:

    Again, what are we freeing her from, and why?

  11. W. David MARX Says:

    I am not sure we are being totally unironic in this post.

  12. W. David MARX Says:

    They DID outlaw the crime syndicates.

    I mean, pass something like the RICO laws so that you can actually prosecute yakuza members and formally start to chip away at their organizations. They are still working out of their same offices, just like always.

  13. alpha Says:

    And, to be clear, she hasn’t been arrested because of her husband’s testimony. She has been arrested because they found actual meth at her house. An insanely small amount, true, found on the inside of a pipe. Also note that she does not live with her husband, so while it is possible that it was his, the odds are, by far, that it is hers.

    This whole thing is a tremendous mixed bag. I don’t support Japan’s drug laws, in general, as they are excessive for things like pot, but when it comes to meth, I think they’re fairly reasonable. It’s pretty clear that what happened was that when her husband got arrested, she went home and ditched her meth, forgetting about the pipe. She went out to hide until her system flushed clean. However, they found the meth pipe, and once they had her on possession, there was no reason to avoid the police anymore, because now it would be avoiding arrest, as opposed to her initial plan of avoiding an arrest warrant even being issued.

    The arrest is reasonable. The tarring of clubs and tattoos and the like is not.

    Also, regarding meth versus X: it’s not just that when they say “stimulant” they mean meth because it’s more popular than X. It’s that they use a completely different word. 覚せい剤 is meth, 合成麻薬 is X.

  14. hlem Says:

    Hiropon = heroin, I thought

  15. Adamu Says:

    I’ll give you one thing – this Noripi scandal is overblown to the extreme.

    But I gotta ask why Japanese people should be so quick to question the status quo on drug use in Japan. Unless my experience is so completely unrepresentative of Japan as a whole, Japan is doing something right when it comes to drug enforcement. Hard drugs are simply not a part of the lives of the vast majority of people, while that isn’t true of the US where it seems like anyone who’s not way out in the country knows an addict or could point the way to a house where they know someone’s on crack.

    I mean, why do Japanese people need to question this? They question it, and then what? People start tolerating meth use all over Japan? I am not presuming to know the answer, though this is what my gut tells me. Sorry I know I am being the bad guy here.

  16. Peter Says:

    I’m with Adamu. I don’t see what’s particularly wrong with the Japanese drug laws (and that’s avoiding a comparison on relative terms to other nations).

    I think she’s a mess. The press can have a field day with how much of a mess she is. Honestly, the behavior of the press is not surprising. Her behavior is.

    Beyond that, the undiscovered details of the Oshio case are a lot more interesting at this point.

  17. apeescape Says:

    I agree with Adamu here. So the general inclination in the US is to legalize certain drugs so that it opens up the market for regulation. This theoretically leads to a more responsible population on drug use. But this is assuming that marijuana and other currently illegal drug use is rampant across the population. When easing drug laws, if Japan’s drug problem within the nation is low enough (and ill-educated), wouldn’t there be a trade-off between a more responsible drug user population and an increased portion of drug users? Although I do agree that the punishments (social or legislative) dashed out shouldn’t completely destroy the lives of the punished.

    BTW maybe I need to be here longer, but I don’t get the emblem(?) shown above.

  18. Robert Breen Says:

    @adamu Because you should question everything; it’s healthy!

    Seriously though, the Japanese around me, and they are far from reactionary types, sadly mostly all swallow the ‘all drugs are bad, no question’ party line without acknowledging that under that term fall many and varied substances; some harmful, some not so very bad when used in moderation.

    THAT’s all I’m suggesting needs to change.

    Meanwhile the number of female smokers in Japan continues to rise, at odds with the trend elsewhere in the industrialised world. Go figure.

    I’m getting the feeling that there’s a lot of ‘straight edge’ type American folk round this parish…

    Loosen up. This is why white America never ‘got’ acid house, I guess.

  19. Robert Breen Says:

    @adamu P.S. please can we also look beyond binaries other than U.S. – Japan..?

  20. M-Bone Says:

    “please can we also look beyond binaries other than U.S.”

    Doesn’t the drug situation in Japan look better than that of just about every country?

    A needle exchange / support outlet started next to the place I rent movies. Last time I went some crackhead had hit another in the head with a beer bottle and he was bleeding on the street in front of the shop. Now I have to find a new place to rent anime. Funny, I don’t seem to have this problem in Japan.

    In the last two years there have been people shot to death 5 minutes walk from my office and a driveby in front of one of my favorite pubs.

    Having said that, the Japanese police should definately lay off the weed and start dealing with real problems. I just can’t say the same thing for meth, however.

    Word is that Sakai is likely to do no time in jail. For a meth case, I think that this is more than fair.

    As for the the ostracism – hey, if you have been riding on a legacy of “cute purity” instead of talent, you should lay off the crank. Can’t have it both ways.

    The amount of news coverage, however, has been insane.

  21. ビンビン Says:

    Why should she be free? Is the Japanese public not ready for a celebrity to face justice?

  22. Peter Says:

    “I’m getting the feeling that there’s a lot of ’straight edge’ type American folk round this parish…”

    “Loosen up. This is why white America never ‘got’ acid house, I guess.”

    Um, whatever that means. The law is the law. You break it, and you get arrested. Where is the breakdown occurring here?

    Now if you want to change the law, be my guest. But be more specific than suggesting that some substances are not harmful when done in moderation, and that white America needs to loosen up.

    Saying that Noriko Sakai is unfairly treated because the law is too harsh or irrational is like the “straight edge American folk” that were outraged at Michael Fay getting caned for what they thought was a violation of the Singaporean chewing gum ban…

  23. Em Says:

    Adamu –

    I actually totally beg to differ. First off, while I have no doubt known my fair share of addicts in the cities I was often gobsmacked by the amount of drug use that goes on in the country, on the kind of tainted, dangerous stuff I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy on. Don’t always trust the image you get from popular media.

    Second, while I completely admit I am in a demographic prone to drug use in any country (the punk scene), the kinds of dirty, disgusting drugs quite a lot of my friends get up to here is absolutely mind boggling. Yeah, in the states there’s quite a fair bit of pot smoking, cocaine, speed, and then a bit of meth and heroin on the side, but because it’s cheaper, easier to get, and comes with far less consequences if you’re caught people here will do the worst of it a lot more often. The last ten times easy someone’s offered me drugs it’s been meth, crack, crank and shiina, which baffled us (my friends and I) for years until we realized it was paint thinner. Pot is considered badass in a way and a kind of luxury which is ridiculous. I don’t love the stuff, but give me a bunch of potheads over a bunch of tweakers any day.

    And thirdly, I assume we are engrossed on the subject of illegal substance abuse, but no one here can really be blind to the amount of legal substance abuse that goes on here, in spades far exceeding what I know of the illegal world. The most common drugs I hear bantered about are alcohol and tobacco, most of my friends are alcoholics who will never be sent in for treatment due to the general acceptance of drinking in this country. Then after them are all the prescription junkies. Yeah, I know it happens everywhere but I’ve never seen a scene with more to offer and where so many people carry around pharmacies in their purses.

    And the cops don’t bat an eye, might I add. Oh, unless you’re carrying pot and then you’ll be crucified.

  24. M-Bone Says:

    “people here will do the worst of it a lot more often.”

    Cocaine seizures in japan in 1994- 30 kg.

    Cocaine seizures in the United States in 1994 – 137,556 kg.

  25. Em Says:

    I like how you both didn’t read a thing I said AND are using US v Japan statistics from ten years ago to prove some sort of odd point.

  26. M-Bone Says:

    Those were the easiest stats to find – the 2004 ones for example are 88 kg for Japan and the US stats seem to vary between 130,000 and 300,000 kg per year (federal only). Adamu argued that hard drugs are “simply not part of the lives of the vast majority of people while that isn’t true of the US.” I think that is certianly backed up by the statistics.

    We’ve had people argue before that young Japanese are “more adept at folding a bindle of cocaine or heroin than creasing an origami crane” but I don’t think that we should consider what seems to be a marginal, tiny urban subculture to be at all representative.

  27. W. David MARX Says:

    One of my older readers was a drug dealer (or maybe Assistant to Drug Dealer) in Tokyo in the ’80s, and he claimed that there was no real market for cocaine since the meth you could get was 100% pure.

    I also seem to remember reading somewhere, although I can’t remember now and almost want to stop repeating it, as it may be rumor, but anyway, that the cops made a deal with the yakuza in the early days of the post-war that they could sell amphetamines as long as they did not import heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, etc. Amphetamines only became “bad” in Japan during the occupation. It also seems suspicious to me that Japan is so good at keeping cocaine and heroin completely outside of Japan and yet there is crystal-pure meth everywhere? If this was just a question of distro channels, shouldn’t all drugs be equally hard to get?

  28. M-Bone Says:

    If we stick the discussion to Japan, we can’t deny that there is lots of meth around.

    I’ve seen NGO estimates that there are upwards of 250,000 regular users. I’ve also seen a US government survey that 1 in 30 grade eights has smoked crack. The drug problem in both countries just doesn’t compare. I mean, do we even have to compare at all? Whole regions of America’s southern neighbor are in civil war over the right to get people up north high.

    Its not like Japan doesn’t have a problem. It seems, however, that the police do a decent job – 6000 plus yakuza arrested for dealing or possession last year which seems okay given that the best guesses put the total number of them at less than 100,000. They could probably do a lot more, however.

    In any case, would you agree that drugs don’t end up touching the lives of the vast majority of Japanese? I think what Adamu says is true based on personal experience and numbers – I know a half dozen people who deal (one guy sells crack), a guy I went to high school got hooked on speedballs and lives on the street. My Japanese wife of roughly simlar social background (naively) thinks that there isn’t any shabu sold anywhere in this Prefecture. You’d have an easier time finding Bigfoot than finding a normal 20something in, say, Idaho that would swear there isn’t a hard drug to be had in the whole state.

  29. M-Bone Says:

    I’d just like to add that I don’t mean to dismiss Em’s original comment here. It seems like you have some fascinating stories to share, I’d like to hear more, and I don’t doubt for a moment that what you are saying is true.

    Just how much of a drug problem exists in a statistical sense and to what extent enforcement should be focused on people like Sakai is a different matter for a different sort of discussion.

  30. xee Says:

    If this was just a question of distro channels, shouldn’t all drugs be equally hard to get?

    but it’s not just a question of distro channels? heroin and crack require importation at some point (you can’t just grow opium or coca leaf anywhere!), but meth doesn’t – you can synthesise it out of cold medicine.

  31. W. David MARX Says:

    Is that the main way Japanese meth supply is being made? I thought it was major industrial producers — not a couple of stray labs. Do they ever bust meth labs in Japan?

  32. xee Says:

    i… do not know!

    The point remains that meth, speed, and MDMA don’t rely on imported natural resources in quite the same way as heroin and cocaine. (i wonder if industrial producers of meth make it out of ephedrine the way meth labs do? given the amount of ephedrine produced in China for the (legal) US pharmaceutical market, i guess there might be some illegal importation into Japan too.)

  33. M-Bone Says:

    First up, I think that we have to put this idea of a “deal” like it was a handshake in a room somewhere to rest. The yakuza who were running the show in the 1950s were not the people who took over out of Kansai in the 1960s-1970s. A lot of bloody fighting and hits like the Hokuriku Dairi Senso is said to have set up what we can call a “North Korean connection”. Japanese outsourced their crank production at the same time that businesses started sending more manufacturing overseas.

    There has been recent talk of more stuff coming in on the Pacific side – Canada has been put on warning and the same Pacific Island meth labs that are supplying Australia and NZ with “P” are supposed to be supplying Japan to some degree.

    I don’t think that it is any surprise that Japan, Australia, and NZ all have forms of meth as the hard drug of choice – similar geography. All have also seen production based mostly offshore.

    I think that market tasts have more to do with all of this than a “gentleman’s agreement” between the police and the yakuza. I think that stories like that give both sides way too much credit. I mean, if there is money to be made, yakuza are going to try to make it and its not like they didn’t have a long history with opiates.

  34. schultzzz Says:

    This is a fascinating debate y’all having, but you’re overlooking four crucial points:

    1) all talento and idols should be in jail anyway, on GP.
    2) no country should ever, ever ‘get’ house music.
    3) if everyone on here is such a bigshot intillectual, why are you watching so much celebrity TV for in the first place?
    4) Slayer.

    That is all.

  35. Nate M Says:

    I spent the last couple days sick in bed, so I’ve seen far too much coverage of this. So far I’ve seen:
    a)Sakai Noriko having a good time;
    b) places you are likely to find a dealer;
    c) prices;
    d) discussions of how much money dealers earn;
    e) literal directions on how to smoke meth incl. visual demonstration;
    f) condemnations from old men

    Maybe the Yakuza is paying Nittere to keep talking about this.

  36. FERIC JAGGAR Says:

    Save an idol, save the world.

  37. Ian Says:

    Apparently a number of fans have been calling the police offering to exchange themselves for Sakai san. I only wish it worked like that…