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Musical couple’s commitment helps husband beat addiction

by Mami Maruko

Staff Writer

American Mike Rogers and his wife, Yuka, of Kanagawa Prefecture, met at an HMV store in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, in 1992.

Mike, who had recently cofounded a record label, was promoting the label’s CDs at the shop when he met Yuka, the in-store DJ at the time who played his label’s music.

After dating for several years, the couple married in 1997. They have a 7-year-old son, Wray, and live now in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

The marriage was Rogers’ third and he has three children — ranging from 17 to 26 years old — from his previous marriages. All four children’s names, including their son’s, are taken from songs or musicians’ names. Wray was named after the late American rock guitarist Link Wray, and Mike’s best friend Ray.

Mike, 54, was born and raised in San Diego to an American father and Japanese mother. As a teenager, he became hooked on punk-rock music, and during college he was the singer and songwriter for the punk band The Rotters, but later took on several jobs, including a position as a securities salesman.

Being fed up with work and life in the U.S., Mike came to Japan with his family in 1984 to start a new life. He worked in the Japanese entertainment industry and as manager at the radio station Inter FM from 2007 to 2009, becoming the first foreigner to hold such a position at a Japanese radio station.

Currently, he owns two companies — one that produces TV and radio programs, engages in talent management and operates as an ad agency, where Yuka is director. His other venture is an online ticketing service.

How did you start dating?

Mike: We both like to eat. Soon after we first met I took her to a “tachigui soba” eatery (where people eat noodles standing up).

Yuka: He said he would take me to a really good restaurant in town. I was in my mid-20s, and had never been to a tachigui soba, so I was surprised. (Mike takes out a picture of Yuka back then, which he keeps in his wallet) Oh, you still have that photo!

Mike: Yes, I do.

Yuka: I have one (of Mike when he was about 38) too. You used to take care of your body and health back then.

Mike: I used to swim for two hours nonstop everyday.

How did your married life start out?

Yuka: Actually, there were many problems.

Mike: I went to drug rehabilitation after getting married.

Yuka: He was hospitalized for about three weeks. When he got better, he told me he must have been dreaming the whole time (before rehabilitation). He didn’t even remember when he got married to me. He is manic and has a tendency to get over-focused on many things. When we were just dating, he was fun to be with — very active, positive, and had many ideas. But when it came to living with him, he had such unprecedented personality traits that I couldn’t keep up with him.

Mike: The addiction started when my daughter from the second marriage had cancer. She was hospitalized for a year and a half. I worked really hard to pay for her hospitalization, and I became dependent on drugs.

How did you get over the problem?

Yuka: At first, I thought he could easily get out of his (drug) habits. But it reached the point where he had hallucinations (both visual and auditory), and got irritable. I couldn’t deal with that. I told Mike if he doesn’t go to the hospital, I’ll move out and get a divorce.

Mike: People don’t understand that the problem with drug addiction is a problem with human communication. It gets to the point where you can no longer function with other people. If you see (the problem resulting from drug addiction) in someone close to you — maybe if you can recognize (it) for what it is, (you can) get help before it gets too bad.

In what language do you speak to your son?

Mike: I speak to him in English, and Yuka speaks to him in Japanese. He is bilingual.

Yuka: He goes to international school, so now he is more fluent in English. I try to talk to him in Japanese at home, and also he goes to karate and piano classes after school — both taught in Japanese by a Japanese teacher. He says that Japanese is a difficult language to learn.

What do you like most about each other?

Mike: I can just relax with her. I see some couples who don’t take their masks off even to each other. With her, I can just relax and be myself.

Yuka: He never says anything about how the house is being kept, so I can do it in my own pace. I’m a sort of person that cleans up a square room in a circle, so I can never live with a man who would say trivial things like ‘Did you clean up the corners?’ I feel at ease with Mike.

What is your plan for the future?

Mike: I want one of my companies to be successful.

Yuka: I’ve invested in a stock called ‘Mike Rogers,’ so I would like to see him succeed!