18-month term sought for Sakai in narcotics trial

Actress apologetic, puts blame on spouse


Prosecutors demanded an 18-month prison term Monday for actress Noriko Sakai for possessing and using illegal drugs in July and August, charges for which she has pleaded guilty.

“I have caused so much trouble against society and so many people around me because of my thoughtless actions,” Sakai, 38, told the Tokyo District Court. “I will never use stimulants again, and will make the effort, day by day, to retrieve the trust I have lost.”

Dressed in black, Sakai shed tears during the one-day trial, where her attorneys asked for a suspended term. The court will hand down a sentence Nov. 9.

Sakai testified that it was her husband, Yuichi Takaso, 41, who first obtained and offered her the illegal drugs four years ago. They started using drugs again since around last year, and Sakai said they used them together at least once a month. She told the court the stimulants fought off fatigue and stress.

“But I should have stopped him from using. I wasn’t strong enough and took them out of curiosity,” she said.

Sakai also told the court that the reason she fled for six days last summer before turning herself in was because she wanted to get the stimulants out of her system so she could pass a urine test.

The actress, who said she is not presently working, said she was thinking of filing for a divorce, but details have not been discussed because she and her husband are prohibited from contacting each other until their trials are over.

Sakai is accused of inhaling the stimulants July 30 in a hotel bathroom on Amami Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, where she, her husband and their son were visiting to view a solar eclipse.

She also admitted to possessing 0.008 grams of stimulants in her apartment in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Aug. 3. This was the day her husband was arrested for possessing 0.817 grams of amphetamine in Shibuya Ward.

According to previous reports, Sakai was present at the scene of her husband’s arrest but refused to go to the police station to voluntarily take a urine test. She disappeared for six days before turning herself in at a police station Aug. 8.

More than 6,610 people lined up in Hibiya Park outside the courthouse for the 20 seats available to the public.

“I wanted to closely observe and see if she does or does not admit to the crime, so I studied the trial system beforehand,” said Yuzo Kanaya, a 39-year-old job-hopper from Itabashi Ward who was first in line. He said he arrived at the park Sunday night.

“I hope she will admit having done wrong,” Kanaya said.

Kazuyuki Watanabe, a company employee in his 40s from Chiba Prefecture who got in line around 4:30 a.m., said, “I want to know the truth by hearing in person the words of Ms. Sakai herself.”

Sakai participated in an antinarcotics campaign in 1993 and starred in a public relations film by the Supreme Court to promote the introduction of the lay judge system.

Information from Kyodo added