Indictment of a pop idol

Singer and actress Ms. Noriko Sakai was indicted Aug. 28 on a charge of possessing a stimulant drug (amphetamine). Her arrest and indictment are regrettable not only because her popularity as a pop idol extends beyond Japan to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong but also because she took part in a government campaign against narcotics use and starred in a public relations film to enlighten people about the introduction of the lay judge system.

Her indictment followed similar action against actor Mr. Manabu Oshio on a charge of violating the Narcotics Control Law. These incidents suggest that the use of narcotics is widespread in the entertainment world. People in the entertainment community have to keep in mind that their behavior can strongly influence people, especially young people who may be fans. Production firms and associations in the entertainment industry should make concerted efforts to drive illegal drugs out of the industry. They should not automatically endorse the comeback of showbiz people who have been involved in narcotics-related incidents.

The information says Ms. Sakai possessed 0.008 gram of an amphetamine in her condominium in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Aug. 3. The amount is small compared with the average 0.03 gram that habitual users take at one time. But the prosecution decided that her case was serious because she was on the run for several days to avoid a urine test for drugs; a large number of straws for inhaling amphetamine smoke were found in her condominium; and the drug was carefully wrapped in aluminum foil.

Ms. Sakai should honestly tell the court why she started using the amphetamine and how she obtained it. It is important that investigators unravel the transaction route of the amphetamine involved. In 2008, the police took action against some 11,000 people in connection with stimulant drugs. Nearly half of them had no connections with gangs, and more than 40 percent were first offenders. Schools, companies and communities should make people, both young and old, aware of the harm that narcotics can cause to their body and mind.