|Native name 酒井 法子|
Name Noriko Sakai
|Years active 1986–present|
Genres Japanese pop
|Born February 14, 1971 (age 44)
Fukuoka, Japan (1971-02-14) |
Spouse Yuichi Takaso (m. 1998–2010)
Albums 大好き~my Moments Best~, Work Out Fine, in snowflakes
Movies and TV shows Hoshi no Kinka, Hitotsu Yane no Shita, Ju‑On: The Grudge 2, Premonition, Mukodono!
Noriko Sakai Aoi Usagi
Noriko Sakai (酒井 法子, Sakai Noriko, born February 14, 1971) is a Japanese singer and actress. She was born in Japan, Fukuoka, debuting in 1986 as an idol singer identity, when her short hair style, sweet smile, youthful image became a talking point. Sakai released her debut single, "Otoko no Ko ni Naritai" (男のコになりたい, "I Want to Be a Boy") on February 5, 1987, nine days short of her sixteenth birthday. Over 40,000 copies of the single were sold. In the early years of her career, she used the nickname Nori-P (のりピー), although around the mid-1990s she started to distance herself from it. She ventured overseas in the 1990s to Taiwan to shoot VITALON P beverage commercials, as well as holding concerts which received praise.
- Noriko Sakai Aoi Usagi
- Personal life
- Drug scandal
- Drug testing and indictment
- Industry and consumer reactions
- Return to the entertainment industry
- Long playing releases
- Box sets
- Original soundtrack contributions
- Television dramas
- Photo books
Sakai returned to after 1993, where she received recognition for her acting in Hitotsu Yane no Shita as Kashiwagi Koyuki. In 1995, she acted in Hoshi no Kinka (Heaven's Coins) as Aya Kuramoto, also singing the theme song Aoi Usagi (碧いうさぎ, "blue rabbit") which became her best selling album to date.
By the end of 1998 she organized the Asian concert tours throughout Taiwan, mainland China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries in the regions. In December 28, 1998, she suddenly held a reporter conference, announcing her marriage to Yūichi Takasō (高相 祐一, Takasō Yūichi). In January 2000, after the birth of her son, Sakai made a comeback to showbiz, and gradually took on roles in movies, drama and advertising. Sakai's popularity in Japan is not outstanding, but she has considerable supporters in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.
In August 2009, Sakai was arrested on suspicion of possession and abuse of drugs and sentenced to probation for three years. She divorced after the incident and temporarily stayed away from the media circle. After her probation ended, she began rehearsals for the theater, and signed on with Office Nigun Niiba, as a first step towards returning to the media committee.
She was born in Fukuoka, Japan. She married Yūichi Takasō (高相 祐一, Takasō Yūichi) in 1998, and divorced on July 31, 2010. She and Yūichi have one son, born in 1999. She is particularly popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Her best-selling single to date is Aoi Usagi (碧いうさぎ, "blue rabbit").
Sakai released her debut single, "Otoko no Ko ni Naritai" (男のコになりたい, "I Want to Be a Boy") on February 5, 1987, nine days short of her sixteenth birthday. Over 40,000 copies of the single were sold. In the early years of her career, she used the nickname Nori-P (のりピー), although around the mid-1990s she started to distance herself from it.
Sakai re-emerged in the headlines for a drug scandal in August 2009, at which time she received a three-year suspended sentence for drug abuse.
On August 2, 2009, Sakai's husband, Yūichi Takasō allegedly inhaled a small amount of stimulant drugs in a public lavatory, at a park in Tokyo's Minato Ward. The next day, Takasō's car, parked on a street in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, was searched. In the car, 0.817 grams of stimulant drugs were found. On August 4, 2009, Takasō was stopped by Tokyo Metropolitan Police while walking in public in Shibuya. When Takasō was subjected to a body search, stimulant drugs were reportedly found in his underwear. Takasō was immediately placed under arrest. Sakai was summoned to the scene of the arrest. She was asked to go to the police station for further questions and to submit to a urine test. Instead, she told the police she had to pick her 10-year-old son up, and that she would go to the police station later that day. Sakai later disappeared with her son.
While Takasō was being questioned at the police department, he reportedly told the police he and Sakai were involved in drugs. As early as ten days prior to his arrest, the two of them used drugs while on a family trip to Amami Ōshima in Kagoshima Prefecture. At the time of Takasō's arrest, Sakai was living in her own apartment in Tokyo. While Sakai was away, the police searched Sakai's home, and reportedly found 0.008 grams of stimulant drugs, carefully wrapped in aluminum foil. An inhaler among the drugs was discovered to have Sakai's DNA. As a result, a warrant was issued for her arrest. On August 5, 2009, Sakai dropped her son off with an unnamed friend, purchased some underwear and other necessities from a store, and then disappeared.
Attempting to track Sakai down by cell phone, the police reported that her cell phone lost signal within the area of Yamanashi Prefecture, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Tokyo. Sakai later claimed that the cell phone was damaged, and that she threw the phone away. Police believe that the cell phone may contain information leading to the source of the stimulant drugs.
On August 7, 2009, Sakai turned herself in to the authorities, and then was placed under arrest. The official charge against Sakai is "suspicion of possessing stimulant drugs," according to a Tokyo police official. She admitted to the drugs being in her apartment, but did not admit to taking the drugs herself. She also said she kept the drugs in foil "to use them later."
On August 17, 2009, a beach house in Katsuura, Chiba was also searched. A frequent location for both Sakai and Takasō the past five years, 0.097 grams of amphetamines and paraphernalia were found in the house. On August 21, 2009, after admitting to the drugs found in the beach house, Takasō was served with a second charge for possession of stimulant drugs.
Drug testing and indictment
On August 9, 2009 - two days after Sakai's arrest, a urine test result came up negative. Light use of methamphetamine can only be detected in a urine test within one to four days after use. On August 19, 2009, investigators announced that Sakai's hair tested positive for the stimulant drug, although the results were weak. Before Sakai was caught, she reportedly dyed and cut her hair; both practices would affect the testing results. Because of the positive result in the hair test, Sakai's jail time was extended another nine days - until August 28, 2009.
On the final day of Sakai's detention, prosecutors officially indicted Sakai for alleged amphetamine possession, based on the evidence collected by the police. The fact that the drugs were carefully wrapped for later use was a deciding factor in the verdict. On September 10, 2009, an additional charge of stimulant drug use was added. Sakai allegedly used amphetamines at a hotel during her Kagoshima Prefecture visit with her husband and son.
Sakai was released from jail after posting bail on September 17, 2009. Accompanied by her attorney, and with Sun Music Vice President Masahisa Aizawa in attendance, she apologized to the public during a press conference. "My weakness caused me to give in to illegal drugs and caused grief to many people. I pledge to repent and atone for this crime for the rest of my life," she said. Sakai was checked into a hospital to overcome her drug habit, and asked for restraint from the media during her recovery.
Sakai's first court date was held on October 26, 2009 - drawing a crowd of 6,600 people outside of a Tokyo courthouse. Sakai pleaded guilty to drug use. Prosecutors suggested eighteen months in prison for Sakai, but on November 9, 2009, the court delayed the jail term to November 9, 2012, as long as she stays crime-free. Sakai attended the University of Creation; Art, Music & Social Work in Takasaki, Gunma, where she received her degree in welfare and nursing care in March 2013.
Industry and consumer reactions
The drug scandal can potentially cost Sakai billions of yen in canceled contracts and other endeavors she was involved in prior. On August 6, 2009, car manufacturer Toyota reportedly stopped showing a commercial, featuring Sakai, on its web site. Sakai's clothing line "PP rikorino", consisting of over 150 items were pulled from stores throughout Japan.
During the first week of the scandal, Apple Inc's iTunes Store rated Sakai's 1995 song Aoi Usagi the number one downloaded song. The rating were based on an eleven-day period. Other Sakai songs among the top 100 downloads include Kagami no Doresu (17th) and Sekaiju no Dare Yori Kitto (18th). On August 9, 2009, Victor Entertainment, the distributor of Sakai's works, withdrew Sakai's CDs from stores, and suspended downloads of her songs. On-line stores such as Amazon Japan still sell Sakai's CDs and DVDs, despite increasing the selling prices as a result of Victor's move.
Immediately after the indictment announcement, Sun Music, the talent agency who has represented Sakai since 1986, suspended the contract. Sun Music president Masahisa Aizawa said, "We apologize from the bottom of our hearts for the alleged misdeeds of Ms. Sakai." Sun Music removed Sakai's official web site from its web server. Soon after Aizawa's announcement, he was demoted to vice-president. Chairman Hideyoshi Aizawa removed himself from the position, and is now an adviser to Sun Music, with no right to represent the firm.
Return to the entertainment industry
In April 2011, Sakai participated in a tour around Beijing to educate the hazards of drug addiction. She claimed that she would temporarily set aside her entertainment career to partake in charity organizations.
At a news conference on November 24, 2012, Sakai announced her return to the entertainment industry, after finishing her suspended sentence that ended earlier Friday. She returned to the stage in December 2012 as the main character in a story about the Sengoku period, ending December 25, 2012. In all, 7,500 people attended the stage performance during the ten-day period.