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Celebrity drug offenders face public humiliation

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What is it about this country, and its media, that makes people think they can justify turning drug offenders into public spectacles? That's the question Hiroshi Morisu poses in Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 18).

Morisu, a 61-year old author and self-professed gambling professional who hails from Ishikawa Prefecture and is now based in Australia, uses the term "sarashi-mono," a relic of the Edo-period penal system when perpetrators of certain misdemeanors were bound with straw ropes and put on public display -- with the specifics of their offense posted on a placard as a warning to others.

Morisu has been fuming since entertainer Noriko Sakai set off a media feeding frenzy after the Tokyo prosecutor charged her for having 0.008 of a gram of stimulants in her possession. Normally in Japan, a suspect with such a small quantity is subjected to "shobun horyu" (punitive detention up to a maximum of 23 days) and then released.

But politicians and the "intelligentsia" have asserted that when celebrities such as athletes and entertainers use drugs, this can pose "major social repercussions."

"Are you people out of your minds?" shrieks Morisu. If you're looking for negative "social repercussions," one need look no further than the politicians and bureaucrats who have institutionalized a system that "circulates tax money."

Rather than antisocial behavior by athletes and entertainers threatening "repercussions," Morisu is convinced it is this lackadaisical tolerance of authoritarianism that reflects the stupidity of Japanese society.

People have short memories. Up to 1945, use of stimulants to "enhance concentration" was heartily endorsed by the government and dispensed to troops before they embarked on suicide attacks.

The drug was sold over the counter under the brand name "Hiropon," said to be derived from the Greek "Philo-pon" (philo = to love + pon = work), i.e., a person who loves to work. Then in 1951, it was abruptly banned as being inconsistent with people's "well being," and suddenly, the "patriots" who obligingly took the drug at their government's urging, found themselves downgraded to pariah status.

Today, asserts Morisu, stimulants stand out as one of only two worthwhile inventions from Japan that have become adopted on a worldwide scale -- the other being dotted condoms.

In the interim, Japanese have conveniently forgotten the original purpose of the drug; its ban now serves as a benchmark to determine who is, and is not, acquiescent to the laws handed down by the eminent authorities from above.

So then, Morisu asks, what possible purpose is served by putting Sakai on public display? More's the point, have the journalists who lambasted Sakai ever experimented themselves -- if not with stimulants then with other illegal substances? If the answer is no, they've picked the wrong line of work and should get out journalism as quickly as they can. They're not cut out for it; people so lacking in curiosity don't belong in the world of journalism.

Indeed, Morisu opines, such journalists may very well exert a far worse influence on society than those whose only crime was to indulge in illegal substances.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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He certainly has a point when he criticises politicians.

But so what if it used to be legal? Surely I heard reports that the US was feeding the troops in Iraq drugs to make them more trigger happy a few years back? Does that make it right for civilians, even celebs, to take such drugs when they're illegal? I think not, so why should the media let these fools get away with their crimes and just carry on their careers as if nothing happened? All those young fans who are currently carrying banners would surely take it as meaning that such drugs are all right, and before you know it the use would have spread all over the place. (More than it already is, I mean.) You can't let people in the public eye get away with things, it's bad for the crime stats.

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The drug use is less of a problem than the filthy home -it's almost un-Japanese =you can't even take your shoes off (shameful!) No wonder her surfer elects to stay at the beach.

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I think the writer is implying that the reaction of the media and the public is really over the top, and I fully agree. It's not like Sakai was snorting crack then crashing her car into hordes of people, for goodness sake. All the media and public sensationalism is childish and counter-productive. Better to have a rational debate about it - that way we might find out what she was taking and why. For me, drug use is personal - if she does it at home and doesn't disturb anyone, exactly what harm is she doing to anyone but herself? I personally don't do 'drugs' as I don't need to - I prefer life the way it is.

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Why do some here feel the urge to tell us that they don't need to use drugs. Who the hell cares! The initial use of drugs is never born of need but more about curiosity, peer encouragement or the necessity to address some medical problem. Not all drugs are harmful.

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The obvious reason for the media hype is to play on people's fears that their children will imitate the behavior of celebrities, which is hardly unfounded.

You can debate all you want about which drugs are harmful or not. It's beside the point. Someone who relies on cultivating a public image in order to make a living has a responsibility as a member if the society that has essentially promoted them to such status.

This guy Morisu doesn't get it. Compare the numbers of young people who aspire to be musicians versus those who want to be politicians.

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@sydenham

Very well said and I absolutely agree.

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Why leave it to the media to do the dirty work then? Because it's more "humane" to slander them in print? No, let's give people the satisfaction of a public stoning. Let the offenders be strapped to a pillar so that we may converge on the Hachiko plaza and pelt them with rotten eggs and overripe tomatoes? Surely that would be much more effective in dissuading other celebs from snorting or shooting up?

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Nice article, excellent points about history and social behavior in Japan, interesting that it took a Japanese living outside of Japan to say it. Been trying to write something like this for other news articles for a while but can't with the off topic rules on this site.

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Yeah going on about celebrities getting high is boring and trivial. Got it.

So, does anyone know what the dotted condoms line means?

Just curious, different from normal colored condoms? Just a joke?

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I think ribbed condoms are a US invention and Okamoto or Sagami, I forget which, countered with a condom with tiny raised bumps (dots) on the surface that "heighten the pleasure" for the female. Or whatever.

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Lemmings. This isn't news either. But I'm glad the likes of many will be reading it. Free Nori-P. Woops, she is free already. Jail the lousy journalists. Right wing freaks that they are. No wonder so many Bushies love Japan. It has the media they always wanted but could never really have state-side.

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Celebrity drug users and abusers in North America are a dime a dozen.

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Celebrity drug users and abusers in North America are a dime a dozen.

Exactly. There are also a lot of prescription drug abusers in North America - one star collects so many prescriptions it seems to be some kind of Basic Instinct for her. Kate Moss got done for coke, but it hardly affected her career.

So Nori P. did the odd line of speed - big deal, she was hardly mugging old ladies for their pension.

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On the one hand you have to agree with him about the politicians but on the other make an example out of the TV Talent(less) and media seeking types because you need to set an example. If the kids think it is OK 'cause celeb A or B does drugs they will follow - especially in the land of the sheep, sorry I mean rising sun...

I never knew that the Japanese invented stimulants for their suicide bombers - hardly a claim to fame I would think? Maybe the police should check what he's smoking?

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If you want to be a celebrity, want to carry an image of a perfect mom, show how beautiful and smarter you are, you should assume the consequences.

Big deal if she is doing drugs? Maybe for her. She is not mugging old ladies for their pensions? She is not but what about the regular hard drug users that loose it and are not paid millions of yen for commercials?

Public humiliation? No problem for me. Just do it.

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I think Morisu makes a valid point about the 'lackidaisical tolerance of authoritarianism'. It's unreasonable to blindly obey the laws without thinking for oneself about what is right, moral or just. Making Sakai a public example has been totally unjustified and unfair. It would be better if we saw some education and debate about drugs come out of this. That way people could make their own decisions and thereby create laws that are truly for the people.

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Also, I'm curious about 'shobun horyu'. If anyway has anyone has more information on this, please comment.

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Unfortunately the world is chock full of neanderthals that live in a polarized black or white reality - and these boneheads often get to interpret or make the laws on behalf of the rest of us.

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I think that it is best for us, including Hiroshi Morisu, to refrain ourselves from making opinions or further comments about Sakai's drug using. Wait until Sakai's trial and verdict time then we can say more. We don't know much about her. The police and prosecutors have more information about her than we do. They are saving it until the court time.

Before Sakai's arrest,do we know about any Japanese actress who was on drugs, having her home getting graffiti and arson, going to a nightclub often, deliberately destroying evidence, lying to the police, failing to keep her stinking and messy condo cleaned to be more suitable for a child, running away, and allowing a mistress to live in her house?

It is so rare, even for a Japanese commoner.

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I agree, thanks for writing this. Hirosu's comments are not about Sakai but the media's treatment of her and other celebrities.

The US went through this to a lesser degree in past decades, as have other countries. It still happens. That said, it's really crossed the line in Japan to the point of corruption.

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The Japanese media and journalists are not the problems. Sakai is. Hiroshi Morisu should not get involved in Sakai's affair. He must be quiet.

The media can report a new incident relating to Sakai anytime. We can make new comments but we should stop discussing any further to safely overlook Sakai's tiny drug problem. Too late now. Forget that. The damage is already done. Sakai did not make a "small" mistake.

Sakai is not like any Japanese, American, or international actress in the world. Once we "touched" her real life, starting with the arrest of her husband, the result was a chain of the succeeding curses.

Drug is drug. Graffiti is graffiti. Arson is arson (not including other arsons to distract firemen from Sakai's home). Mistress is mistress. Stinking condo is stinking condo. Lying is lying. Running away is running away. Evidence destroying is evidence destroying. Nightclub is nightclub.

Arson is very dangerous. The fire had potentiality to spread to other houses and trees. Don't forget about the other nearby arsons at the similar times. Thanking to Sakai's tiny mistake, like forgetting to take the aluminum-foil wraps out of her cosmetic bag, it opened Pandora's box to endanger the Japanese society.

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If you let the media make you then they can break you. One can't have it both ways.

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Well said lunchmeat. And break they shall.

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Good. As I wrote on another link, people like Sakai (now in hospital) should be kept in glass-walled hospital rooms, with visiting hours that are open to the general public. Think of it as being similar to the pandas at Ueno Zoo. You could get the whole family and go along and see the druggies.

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I agree that we are becoming an authoritarian state with the author. But eventhough this whole thing was blown out of proportion, probably with the aim that people shouldn't be taken drugs, it was ironic to see that young guy being arrested a few days ago who almost openly planted marijuana on his balcony that everybody could see passing by. Doesn't that mean that the whole story had no effect on people?

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Norrie P sold her "Gomenasai" press conference to the highest bidder. Shameless.

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This has nothing to do with Sakai. It's about police corruption, illegally leaking personal info to the press, and gross preferential treatment. Shame on you.

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