Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit


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Hi Blog.  It’s all over the news these days, probably receiving more press than even when Michael Jackson died.  Celebrity Sakai Noriko (and her husband)’s arrest for drug use.  The word “junkie” has certainly entered the lexicon.

The latest:  Despite Noriko’s yakuza connections, her husband is saying foreigners supplied their drug habits.

Turning the keyboard to some concerned NJ residents of Japan, who poignantly foresee not only hypocrisy, but a reinforced spate of NJ crackdowns for drugs.  Anonymized.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Debito, With all of the Sakai NoriP news going on, the Yomiuri was quick on the uptake to speculate that foreigners may be the source for drugs:


(Off topic: I found this sentence to be particularly flawed:
繁華街では外国人グループによる密売が目立ち […] Hardly very 密売 if it is 目立ち.)

(2009年8月9日03時23分 読売新聞)

Now just wait for it… as we all knew would be coming, her husband Takasō puts the blame on foreigners for the drugs:

夫の高相祐一容疑者(41)は、[…] 逮捕された当初は、「路上で外国人から買った」などと話していたという

酒井法子容疑者覚せい剤事件 覚せい剤は「夫からもらったものを使った」

警視庁は、酒井容疑者が姿を消していた6日間の足取りについても捜査している。(08/10 14:09)

It’s such a familiar story, so I can’t say that I am surprised in the least. Hopefully it doesn’t lead to increased racial profiling or another wave of urine tests.



NHK news reported this evening that her husband is telling the police his source of stimulant drugs was a “gaikokujin.” I’ve seen it in several other places on the TV news.

It might even be true, but these guys are just agents of the yakuza who assume the risks of dealing with the end-users. I also fail to understand why an unproven gaikokujin connection makes it any different from buying it from a Japanese. What it does do is get police off the hook about having to track down and arrest the source of the man’s drugs. In other words, a cop-out. Sheeesh….

産經新聞 2009.8.10 19:28

Iranian drug dealers operating in upper-class Tokyo neighborhoods
Tokyo, Saturday, 1 November. 2008 /PanOrient News

The shocking photo, taken from a security camera on a Tokyo street in broad daylight, shows a tall man of middle eastern origin passing a white plastic bag to a young Japanese woman.

According to the Drug Control Department of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which supplied the photograph, the transaction took place on the street in Takanawa — one of Tokyo’s most affluent neighborhoods. It was one of three exclusive residential districts, along with Shirokane and Azabu, said to have been targeted by Iranian drug dealers about one year ago.

Evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 1) reports that the dealers supplied stimulants drugs to as many as 20,000 users, which brought them revenues upwards of 20 million Japanese yen a month.

The drug buyers were not necessarily residents of the neighborhoods where the dealers operated, but went there to seek the drugs because police patrols in Shibuya and other areas frequented by young people had driven foreign dealers off the street.

Aside from audacity of openly engaging in drug transactions on the street in affluent neighborhoods during daylight hours, the extent of demand for drugs made the revelations doubly shocking.

“The group was organized into 10 teams, who supplied drugs to Tokyo-area users who numbered upwards of one hundred thousand,” Katsuhiro Sakata, a investigator at the Health Ministry, is quoted as saying. “Among the users were men who could no longer hold down jobs at their companies because of their addition, as well as many full-time housewives.

“Japanese dealer typically only sell to regular customers, but the Iranians were out to make money, so they would sell their stuff to anyone. That’s how they expanded their business.”

Yukio Murakami, a freelance journalist, tells Nikkan Gendai that the dealers carefully staked out their sales territory.

“From about four years ago, they moved into Jiyugaoka, a trendy district in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward,” says Murakami. “They also operated unobtrusively in small stations along the Tokyu Ikegami line.”

Communicating with customers via sites on the Internet, the dealers used specialized jargon,  referring to their goods as “udon” (a type of wheat noodle) or “melanin” (skin pigmentation).

“Stimulants are the drug of choice for poor people,” says Murakami. “Housewives may become acquainted with dealers via ‘encounter’ sites on the Web, and become addicted. In many cases their craving drives them to prostitution. Eventually they may lose their sanity and turn to crime, even murder.”

A Iranian man in his early forties going by the name of Abolfazl Zarbali, who was arrested last July, allegedly told authorities he has been coming to Japan to deal drugs for the past 12 years. Police are continuing their crackdown.

=PanOrient News


31 comments on “Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit

  • Hopefully everyone connected to illegal drug use and distribution will be sought out and punished, but it should be realized that there is a growing amount of the stuff spreading in both Japanese and foreign communities in the country, especially in Tokyo. An American student I met the other day informed me that in her first month in Tokyo she was able to quite easily meet people in Roppongi using speed, ecstacy, etc. The area has tunred into a junkie haven over the years, and I’m sure there are similar areas in other places as well. If anyone knowns such drug users/distributors, please tell them to knock it off or inform the authorities so it doesn’t affect the rest of us who stay clean. Also, if may be in your best interests to not associate with such people in the first place.

  • Cops aren’t cracking down on NJ, they’re cracking down on drugs. If NJ are being arrested for supplying drugs, then it’s probably because there’s cause to believe it. The NJ being stopped for pee checks, wasn’t it reported that Sakai was asked to visit the local station for a urine test?

  • Hobertaa,

    The difference between the Sakai case and the pee checks in Roppongi is that in the Sakai case there was due cause for suspicion that a crime had been committed due to the fact that her husband had already been taken in for using drugs and that she had been incognito for several days, thus suggesting that she had also been using drugs. The only “suspicion” in the Roppongi fiasco is that most were NJ drinking in the Roppongi area. In this case, if the police were to conduct the operation properly, they would have to cordon off a certain area, and ask for “voluntary” urine checks of everyone, whether they were NJ or J, punters or staff. This would be the only way to do it, although I’m sure it would cause an uproar in the media if the J public was involved because of the lack of due cause.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Well, it was only a matter of time before the mysterious “foreigner in Roppongi” was brought up.
    My recommendation to NJs stopped for “random” urine tests state that they have not purchased any substances from Self-Defence Force personnel or pop stars.
    And Horbertaa, there’s a difference between being stopped in the street for a urine test (random NJs) and being asked to supply a urine sample because your partner with whom you reside, was caught with illegal drugs in his possession and you responded by running away (Noripii)
    The latest is that Noripii’s pee came back negative, even though she’s admitted to using the drugs. Of course, she showed “hansei”, so she’ll probably get off lightly.

  • Saw last night at mews channel and my first thought was (I didn’t know about Noriko’s connection to Yakuza): sure… if you want to cover Yakuza drug dealers the easiest way is to blame on gaijin, the weakeast link of the Japanese society chain.
    It is common in Japan to pick on weaker people wether you are with your back to the wall or not.

  • Again, because the couple is Japanese his wife was allowed to go free during investigation, as she said she had never took drugs. They allowed her to return home, but at the end she has been gone 5 days and her mobile phone signal showed she is somewhere in the mountain. Everyone thought she had killed herself, but finally found on “high”. If it were you, Police would never allow you to stay home while investigating. Bear in mind that in Japan you are guilty unless proven innocent. As NJ you will likely to spend this time behind the bars.

  • @hotbertaa:
    Really? Where’s your evidence that NJ are more likely to supply drugs than japanese?
    Also, with Sakai, there was already probable cause for her urine test. where’s the probable cause behind racial profiling?


    Drug sales rife in parts of Tokyo
    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Sales routes for illegal drugs have become increasingly diversified in
    recent years, with drugs available not only on black markets run by
    gangs, but also through dealers operating in bars and clubs and even
    on the streets.

    In some entertainment areas, drugs are openly traded and shared among
    friends and acquaintances.

    The National Police Agency said Roppongi and other busy nightclub
    districts in Tokyo are particular hotbeds.

    When former sumo wrestler Wakakirin was arrested by the Kanagawa
    prefectural police in January for violating the Cannabis Control Law,
    he confessed to police that he bought the drug from a foreigner on a
    street in Roppongi. He was sentenced to a 10-month prison term,
    suspended for three years, a ruling that was finalized.

    Manabu Oshio, a 31-year-old actor who was arrested Aug. 3 on suspicion
    of violating the Narcotics Drug Control Law, also inhaled a synthetic
    drug known as MDMA in a condominium unit in the Roppongi district of
    Minato Ward, Tokyo.

    Foreign drug dealers make up a large proportion of dealers in Japan–
    of 544 smugglers and dealers arrested nationwide last year, 128 were

    In some cases, the drugs were being traded openly on the streets
    during the day.

    A member of Nihon DARC, a organization for helping drug addicts return
    to normal life, said: “Before, it was hard to obtain stimulant drugs
    and cannabis without special personal connections. But recently, it’s
    easy for people to get hold of them.

    “Many drug addicts are just everyday people, and because they are so
    common now, people may feel less wary about trying them.”

    (Aug. 10, 2009)

    Sakai hesitated to turn herself in due to media swarm
    Japan Today/Kyodo News Monday 10th August, 11:57 AM JST

    TOKYO —
    Actress Noriko Sakai apparently hesitated to turn herself in after she
    was told by an acquaintance that police stations were swarming with
    reporters following the arrest of her husband for alleged possession
    of stimulant drugs, investigators said Monday.

    Sakai was quoted by investigators as saying she ‘‘got into a panic and
    didn’t know what to do’’ after hearing from the acquaintance, whom she
    had sent to take a look at the police station where her husband,
    Yuichi Takaso, 41, was under arrest and the one which received the
    search request from her mother-in-law.

    The investigators said the Metropolitan Police Department believes the
    38-year-old actress, affectionately called Nori-P by her fans,
    hesitated to turn herself in because of her feelings of panic and did
    not really intend to run away from the police.

    Sakai, who was arrested Saturday night, was sent to the prosecutors
    Monday morning.

    Shortly after the Aug 3 arrest of her husband, she disappeared along
    with their 10-year-old son. The son was later found safe in Tokyo in
    the custody of her acquaintance, but her whereabouts had been unknown
    until she turned herself in to the police Saturday.

    Sakai has admitted to taking stimulant drugs ‘‘several times’’ since
    last summer when her husband first recommended her to do so, said the
    police, who are now investigating where they obtained the drugs.

    Takaso, who describes himself as a professional surfer, was arrested
    after a police officer found a plastic bag containing stimulants in
    his underwear when he was walking in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

    Takaso was quoted as saying by the police that he bought the drugs he
    was carrying at the time of his arrest from a foreigner.

    The police obtained an arrest warrant Friday for Sakai after finding
    0.008 gram of amphetamine wrapped in aluminum foil in the apartment of
    the former pop idol in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, where she lives separately
    from her husband.

    Forty-two straws suspected to have been used to inhale stimulants were
    also found at her apartment, according to the police.

    The police suspect that 0.008 gram may have been residue as the usual
    dose taken by users of the stimulant drug is about 0.03 gram.

  • It irritates me how the press, especially here, simply refers to ‘drugs’ as if they are all the same.

    I think this is really over-simplistic. In reality, there is a huge spectrum going from ‘legal drugs’ such as coffee, tobacco and alcohol, through weak illegal drugs like marajuana, up to stronger but not-addictive ones like speed/ecstasy/LSD and then onto the dangerous ones like cocaine (addictive) and heroin (extremely addictive).

    It is the latter to that might induce someone to ‘become addicted and turn to prostitution or even murder’, so to lump those drugs together with the speed (amphetamine) used in this news story is ignorant.

    That is not to say that I condone drugs in any way, I just think discussion should be more informed. There is an absolutely massive difference between a dealer of heroin and a one-time user of speed as in this case. But the media doesn’t make this clear and in fact seems to deliberately blur the information.

  • Sheesh! I thought that the Japanese economy was driven by exports? J-Companies “who were out to make money, so they would sell their stuff to anyone? That’s how they expanded their business?” I’m just waiting for “Open-Mouth-Change-Foot” Taro to say something along the lines of how “Japanese drugs are such better quality than xyz country’s drugs!” It IS the silly season, after all!

  • lol, I actually bet my wife that they’d say they got their drugs from NJ – guess I win (and lose for those who’ve ever “won” a bet with their wife).

  • Shaun, Andrew – my understanding of the story reported is that Sakai was asked to attend the police station for a urine check prior to her disappearance, she said no, and disappeared. Andrew, I also believe she doesn’t ‘reside’ with her husband. I don’t think it’s normal to arrest a guy for possession of drugs, and then call his wife in for checks. Combine that with the stops in Roppongi and you have a crack down, the Police are sending a sign out that says ‘don’t do drugs in Japan’.

    Kimpatsu, I suggest you read my comments closely before flamming. NJ being arrested for supplying drugs are likely to happen due to probable cause. Me, my wife, the average NJ going about his business, we’re not going to get arrested for supplying drugs. The guys on the streets of Shibuya, Roppongi, ‘the guys that are supplying drugs, quite openly’ those guys being monitored by the police, they will get arrested.

    As I said, I believe it’s a crackdown, NJ will be in the mix alongside Japanese people.

  • mameha:
    marajuana, ecstasy, LSD, speed are addictive drugs.
    Your point that these drugs are less likely to take you to hardened crime could be true. But too much use and your likely to affect your day to day life (my friend eventually dropped out of uni for taking Ecstasy on a weekly basis), long term use (including marajuana) would probably lead you to suffer some form brain damage.

    As for taking a simplistic view, that’s often the quickest route to a problem. The policy makers don’t want illegal drugs in Japan, full stop. They don’t care to have a discussion, they’ve made their decision. If somebody is found to have drugs, selling or using, they get punished. The news reports it, the population get the message, Don’t use drugs in Japan. Simple and Effective.






  • Hotbertaa – I agree that the ‘Simple and Effective’ way is easy to understand and is effective.

    However, I see two problems with this:

    1) The likes of Sakai get incorrectly thrown in the same bag with heroin dealers, damaging their reputation more than it should be. You can say she deserves it for playing with fire, but I think this is like having a ‘Simple and Effective’ rule of Hanging all people who commit a ‘crime’ – albeit murder or petty shoplifting. Reality is a spectrum of colors and shades, not only black and white.

    2) It is hyprocrisy to allow the drugs of tobacco (bane of my life) and alcohol and yet make marujuana illegal. Though I have no interest to do so, taking Maruajuna for personal use to relax seems like a victim-less crime. We do not make loud music or extreme sports illegal, though if you expose yourself to ‘long term use’ of those you will damage yourself.


    nemoflow at 03:31 PM JST – 10th August

    Standard procedure…
    Japanese person does something wrong and gets caught…
    Talked into it by peer – CHECK!
    Gaijin involvement – CHECK!
    Felt confused / Scared – CHECK!
    Shifting blame onto socially recognised group outside of personal sphere – CHECK!
    Victim syndrome – CHECK!
    Any predictions for how this is going to pan out?
    I am thinking…
    Short-term; keep up the victim card, find ever more sub-groups to pull in to the mess
    Mid-term; vanish out of the public eye after paying off authorities
    Long-term; head an anti-drugs campaign combined with on-screen pseudo-documentary about her victimisation at the hands of her husband/gaijin influence, with hammy acting, hushed speaking, solemn nodding with hands clasped on lap, and plenty of crying.
    I am tempted to make a Flash application template which can be applied to all future celebrity cock-ups.

  • Does anyone know what’s the standard sentence for such a crime? I’m interested because I want to see if either of them actually get the same treatment that anyone else (or a foreigner) would get.

  • Jean Patrick says:

    Absolutely yes Debito. I don’t have any personal dislike against this artist Noriko, but I would like to see this entertainer taking full responsability as a mass communicator to society, don’t let again the wrong message to the younger generations, be “kawaii” and cinical and everything is gonna be alright…

  • Yeah, blame the foreigner boogieman, the monster gaijin, why not? We never see anybody around taking full responsability for their bad actions lately anyway…
    It’s hard to believe that j cops would even consider that a bunch of foreigners could handle the logistics of drug trade and smuggling inside a highly policed country like Japan without the support of more powerful and indigenous criminal groups. I would really like to see this investigation come to the higher levels of responsability.

  • Here’s a couple more T-shirt ideas:

    #1: I visited ROPPONGI and all I bought from some foreign guy was this lousy T-Shirt!

    #2: I visited ROPPONGI and all I got was a free urine test!

  • One thing this will lead to that no one here has mentioned yet is greater Japanese government control, monitoring, and censoring of the Internet. Gotta keep tabs on who’s talking to who about what, don’t ya know.

  • The only thing I could think of after hearing about Noriko fleeing in panic was that song by A Flock of Seagulls-I ran. I ran, Iran so far away.
    Iran isn’t the most open country with people so freely and easily traveling all over the place. Also as noted by AFOS it’s not so close to Japan. The level of organization needed to run this obviously burgeoning drug business is of a multiple layered variety. Everything from bent cops to immigration officials in many places inside and outside Japan I would say. (allegedly of course). From Iran or Afghanistan or Pakistan through China and then by ship. Shiploads of the stuff squirting out of the ports. No longer the Silk Road but the Powder Trails. You need money to fight the coalition of good guys.

  • you have to ask yourself the question, of course there going to say it was the big bad beast gaijin that supplied them the drugs because its a good story that the japanese mass media air heads will eat alive. they of course are not going to blame it on there japanese yakuza friends because they want to have a long life…if you know what i mean.

  • “Long-term; head an anti-drugs campaign combined with on-screen pseudo-documentary about her victimisation at the hands of her husband/gaijin influence, with hammy acting, hushed speaking, solemn nodding with hands clasped on lap, and plenty of crying.”

    That may well happen, but does anyone think that Ms. Sakai (Takaso) is intelligent enough to come up with that on her own? I would be shocked if her talent agency did not know of her whereabouts for the majority of her “missing” period. I would bet my left nut that they have spent several days coaching her through what she is to say and do to police at this time, as well as to when she is released and gives her inevitable apology press conference.

    These companies are getting quite good at rehabilitating Geinojin Gone Wild. Tsuyoshi Kusanagi is back after less than two months in purgatory, and while a drug conviction is much more serious than disturbing the peace in the buff, I’ve no doubt that they will do all the right things to insure that she can continue to make them money.

    With the arrest of two actors and a self-proclaimed professional surfer on drug charges in the span of a little over a week’s time, this indicates to me that this is only the tip of the iceburg of a much larger illegal drug problem in the entertainment business. What are the chances that this will lead to talent companies requiring mandatory random drug tests for actors in the future? I would have thought that that would have been impossible a couple of years ago, but now even the closed world of sumo is engaging in some form of drug testing, so who knows?

  • Interesting sideline:

    Kyoto University’s English website has a “don’t bring drugs to school” warning, pasted below. It is absent from their Japanese language website.


    “April 13, 2009

    The possession or use of cannabis (marijuana), narcotic and psychotropic drugs, opium, stimulants, thinners, MDMA etc. are strictly prohibited by law in Japan.
    Violators are arrested and prosecuted as criminals, and receive severe punishments that include but are not limited to imprisonment and deportation.
    Drugs are highly addictive, and there is a high probability that its usage will escalate once experienced.
    Drugs will destroy your physical and mental health, and destroy relationships with family and friends.
    DO NOT USE these drugs under any circumstance!”

  • Michael Weidner says:

    I understand that the laws in Japan prohibit drug use and drug possession, but what I have to ask is….how is this news? I’m almost completely positive that nearly all famous people abuse drugs in one way or another. And not only that….they were busted for MDMA. Cops in Canada at least don’t usually even bother because, in effect, it’s fairly harmless. For a country where alcoholism is soo prevelent that it’s pretty much apart of everyday life, I’m really shocked that it’s recieving this much attention. With a National Election coming in less than a month, I would think that the priority would be on THAT, and not how some junkie actress and her deadbeat husband got high on exctasy and got caught.

    Seriously. Wake up people.

    Getting to the point of this article though, MDMA is readily available in every major city around the world. Most of the people whom I know that are occational drug users in this country get their drugs from Japanese people; not other foreigners. Reason being that the likeliness of getting searched as a Japanese person is fairly low. So the police should really just be shaking down everyone instead of us NJs. Really; the likeliness of catching someone with enough to distribute is really low.


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