Singer-actress Noriko Sakai, recently arrested on charges of drug use, certainly came from an unusual family background. Her only sibling and half-brother, Takeshi Sakai, sent a letter to Shukan Post shedding light on their childhood in the yakuza world. Takeshi is currently incarcerated at Fukuoka Jail, pending trial in September for drug use. Ironically, he, too, was arrested in July, shortly before his sister.
It is a well-known fact that their late father Mineki Sakai was a gang boss of a local crime syndicate in Fukuoka, where the siblings grew up. While Noriko was the daughter of Mineki's first wife and Takeshi, 8 years her junior, was born to his second wife, they had a close half-sister/brother relationship.
The 30-year old Takeshi admits he was a one-time yakuza member and has a criminal record. After his half-sister became a popular TV idol, he kept his distance from her, declining invitations to events she was participating in. “I didn’t tell people that she was my sister, and I just didn’t want to be a nuisance to her… As long as I knew she was doing well, I was happy,” he writes.
Several years ago, he started hearing rumors that Noriko was hanging out with the "wrong sort" of people, and possibly using drugs. He expresses his regret in the letter, “if only I had confronted her at the time,” and says he cannot forgive Noriko’s husband, Yuichi Takaso, for making his sister a drug user.
No doubt her marriage to Takaso caused Nori-P to get into drugs, but the Sakai family background may have laid the foundation, since both brother and sister were exposed to drug use from an early age. When the two had been placed under the care of foster parents and were living together with young yakuza members, they witnessed narcotics abuse and the suffering of family members.
An individual who knew the family well acknowledges that the sister and brother were indeed very close, and their bond had much to do with the circumstances they were living under. As gang boss, the father was often absent in the evenings, and younger members were constantly at their home, which was in the same building as the gang office. There even was a large-scale police search of their home and the gang office when Noriko had just entered elementary school.
According to this individual, Mineki cut ties with the yakuza business when his daughter went to Tokyo at the age of 14 and made her debut in the entertainment world. But he adds, “It’s a recognized fact that the father was a drug abuser for a time. I’m sure Noriko knows as well. He tried to hide it from his family, so he didn’t inhale or use syringes, but instead he mixed the stimulants in curry, which he ate… He was wearing sunglasses and a hat all the time. I guess he didn’t want others to see how bad he looked.”
That Noriko allowed her husband’s lover to live with them and even look after her son may not be so surprising either. Sakai’s stepmother and mother to her half-brother Takeshi, who later divorced their father, comments that Mineki always had mistresses. As wife of the boss, she was expected to take charge in looking after those mistresses -- which was the "ordinary" yakuza lifestyle that Nori-P grew up in.
Noriko Sakai’s trial will begin on Oct 26. It remains to be seen how much of her unusual upbringing will be disclosed in court.© Japan Today