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Noriko Sakai's yakuza upbringing in spotlight

46 Comments

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

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


46 Comments
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I'm waiting for someone to say she got her drugs from an NJ. Step 1) drug bust, i.e. major shift in news from more socially important talk; step 2) incessant disclosure of irrelevant information, i.e. endless variety show blathering; step 3) link NJ affiliation, i.e. deflection.

Perhaps this Yakuza thing is just a deflection... but what a poor testament to what feeds people these days. "Give her a break, give us a break"

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What a shame to be having your personal business exposed to the public. What a hard lesson for Sakai to learn from the school of hard knocks. See getting involved with the wrong people can drag you down. I heard of someone who had to cut a friend off in Japan for doing drugs. The guy just came over the friends house one day and suddently started smoking pot, even offerred it to the friend. After that, the friend never emailed or contacted the other friend again. You have to cut people off that do drugs in Japan, people like Americans and British folks keep trying to justify that its OK to do illegal drugs here because its accepted in there country. This is another country, and people have to respect the rules, it isn't about complainting to change the law so that some drug users will benefit from a high. Sakai is learning a good lesson, and hopefully, her example will make others think deeply about being friends with bad associates and drug users. She put her self in that situation, she can't really blame anyone else but her self, this is a major wake up for many drug users in Japan to break there habit quickly.

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The yakuza have to learn to split their business. Drug trafficking and sex trafficking, is their problem, and while they dont distinguish one from the other, their problems, will always be at bay because they have the inner turmoil from these 2 businesses constantly battling each other-or covering for each other. Again, I would mention the word drug being very ambiguous.

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azzassa -- except it wasn't mj, it was amphetamines she was arrested for possessing. In Japan, as we're seeing now, the laws in place are incredibly strict with regards to drug possession. The problem some people seem to have is the selective nature of the application of said laws, which I understand; however, if you ultimately believe in the rule of law then you need to understand why others here applaud the hardline stance being taken.

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Nori-P is a drug user. In most countries she would go to NA and be done with it. Why does it seem like everyone thinks she deserves jail time? How many of you have never smoked weed?

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Surprising as first but not so surprising on second thoughts. Showbiz and the underground gangs always have links.

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Ahhh, nobody's family is perfect. Hell, I'm just waiting on the book. Better yet, I agree with another comment, I'm waiting on the J-dorama, too! Who's gonna play Nori-P?

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I'm not sick of hearing about this case, but I AM sick of all the irrelevant little details the prosecuters and the media keep dredging up. It's like they've administered some sort of hypnosis/truth serum to find out every single time in her life that she ever drank too many cans of redbull, popped a sudafed, or inhaled a puff of ventolin. Slight exaggeration (barely) I know, but we get it already. Noriko Sakai tried illegal stimulants, 0.008 of a gram of them. Maybe even more than that. And not just once either, possibly several times over the last few years. Shocking! I wonder if she ever drank alcohol when she was underage? Perhaps they should try to squeeze that out of her as well. How old, 14? 15? How many times? Wine, beer, sake, or the hard stuff? Shocking.. Why, they ought to pull her records off the shelves, cancel her contracts, fire her from her management company, lock her in jail and treat her like the arch super-villain she is. Oh wait, they've already done that..

I admit that as a fan I'm biased in her favour and I registered specifically to comment here, but I'm pretty confident that I'd feel the same way even if I'd never heard of her before today. It's stupid. She grew up in weird circumstances as a yakuza kid, being shuffled around between different drug using family/gang members. She spent half of her life being expertly sheltered and "handled" by the idol makers who she made very wealthy in the process along with the presidents and CEO's of quite a few big companies - all of whom have turned against her now that they've determined she's in league with Osama bin Laden. She's been in the public eye for close to 25 years and has always been a squeaky clean model of goodness and purity and sweetness and light (ad nauseum), despite her own best efforts to shed the cute and perfect "Nori-p" image - never a hint of scandal in all these years. Now that she's a grown woman who's been out on her own for a decade or so, of course she's going to make a mistake eventually. I think people are having a hard time accepting that their perfect princess Nori-p isn't perfect after all and that's why this case is so "shocking". Well good morning Japan, nobody's perfect, not you, not me, and not even super-idols like Noriko Sakai. Get over it. These self-righteous and no doubt hypocritical (many of them, at least) prosecutors, journalists, industry executives and media figures who've been condemning her should .......well you get the idea. My two cents.

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wow, eat the drugs with curry...............some hot stuff !!

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This must be one fun girl! Living most of her life in that controlled J-entertainment world, but with her real self wanting to burst out. Just one date please.

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This article (and comments above), does a lot to solve the mystery of why they are badgering this woman, and why the media is in a frenzy. It's all a plan to help her write a book and star in a movie.

Her only sibling and half-brother, Takeshi Sakai... is currently incarcerated at Fukuoka Jail, pending trial in September for drug use. Ironically, he, too, was arrested in July, shortly before his sister.

Yeah, what a coincidence.

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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.

Yep! I'm sure the guy forced them down her mouth. No one makes you a drug user. You make that choice on your own.

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"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."

It was probably his connection to the criminals that control so much of the entertainment world that got Noriko Sakai into the idol business, especially without having to do anything related to porn first.

A stink has been raised, the harmony flow has been disrupted, so it's time to bring her all the way down. Then, after she's been punished by the legal system, she be able to rehabilitate herself through a tear-jerker apology on TV sometime down the road, followed by a book and a gradual reinsertion into the entertainment world. Cry me a river, sweetie!

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I don't blame the parents... I blame the government for making the kind of law which makes what she did illegal.

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She looks very attractive.. her face and hair.

aw

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What about the allegations that the family are Korean too? That one started surfacing no doubt to deny the possibility a "pure" Japanese could ever become involved in this drug nonsense. I just love it when the old "this criminal must have a Korean/Chinese bloodline " chestnut gets wheeled out in these cases!

By the way, I have a pack of Sudafed Cold & Flu tablets, and some codeine migraine tabs, so therefore I am the equivalent of a big time junkie compared to Sakai and her 0.00008 gram of some white powder. Arrest me too, J-Cops.

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Seems like the kind of stuff we see in those bad b-rated movies, not what would happen in real life.

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Sounds like she had a somewhat disrupted childhood. I agree with BudhismTech that Sakai's case has gotten so much coverage becuase of the people she and her family associated with. The cops were probably hoping she'd bring down a big fish somewhere.

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BuddhismTech, I have to say that your posts are better than the reporting.

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Yep, I blame the parents....

Why is this important?

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I seriously question the notion of an "in-house mistress" as applied to a life of junkie-celebrity-club-chick like Noripi. The other girl may as well first have been Nopipi's own lover, further expanding into becoming a "family member" and even a helpful "second mother" to replace the busy actress at home. All that very likely implies having the three were having great drug'n'sex parties at home.. can there really be a "mistress" in a threesome? Okay, it may as well be that the hubby and the "mistress" had developed a relationship beyond expectations of Noripi, but that's only natural.. and another story altogether.

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This report could've been longer and more detailed, as it was disgested from TWO Shukan Post issues (Sep 11 and 18). Nevertheless, good report.

Unfortunately, given this complicated situation esp. the 893 connections, whether Non-chan would/could eventually make it in one piece remains to be seen.

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I feel bad for stars who get in trouble. Far too many people are ready to condemn people for screwing up. But hey, they are people under a lot of pressure and they mess up. I'll be a lot more people around you are doing drugs or other shady activities that you don't know about and that they just have not been caught at yet.

People are imperfect, often illogical and damaged goods. Some turn to drugs, some to drink, others to sex and some to violence. While many turn to other forms of disfunction that you may never notice.

Give the girl a break. She will face the charges and can get on with it. As for all those glass house residents throwing stones, better take a long look at you and your family before throwing too many stones.

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@TheDave

"Buddhism Tech, you are really hung up on Sakai's case. I can't recall seeing you post on other stories."

I do. A few comments on other stories recently. Just click on my BuddhismTech link.

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Let it be, she will get her punishment and nobody is interested in her I'm-a-good-mother-phrases anymore... The Yakuza idiots controlling Japan and it will never change. So what?...

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If Sakai did not go to Tokyo to make her debut as an entertainer, she would become a real daughter of a yakuza boss. At the age of 14, Sakai was too "young" to have her body tattooed. She was very lucky to find a job which turned her into a famous girl. But she was like a walking yakuza without a tattoo. No one seemed to notice her. It is like a yakuza dirt already planted in her brain when she was a child. "Yakuza lite" of hers just did not show up until Sakai made an extremely embarrassing mistake. A few years ago, Sakai felt an urge to have her ankle tattooed and get into the drugs. Maybe she was doing them because she thought that her life was getting too short.

If you want to know about how does it feel like a daughter of a yakuza boss, I have provided a link for you to read. This webpage has a great article and two big pictures of the Japanese mother's body filled with tattoos. One of them shows her holding her baby.

http://dameyo.com/2009/03/05/the-world-of-japanese-gangsters/

The one-page long article even suggests a book to be read. Its title is "Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter" (Amazon.com does sell these books). It said that this woman was into sex and drugs when she was in teens. It mentioned that the Japanese mobsters were mixing with celebrities, Japan's richest men, and prime ministers.

It explains why the Sakai coverage was on Japanese televisons for a long time, because Japan feared that Sakai could be more than an ordinary drug user, after she ran away to fix something. Maybe it gives you an idea about what does Sakai's brain look like, after she went through her family problems in her childhood.

***Sakai's mother had a job to manage Mineki's mistresses??? It deeply sickens me. Very alien. I watched some yakuza movies but never heard about that. I know about concubines in "ancient" China. But this is completely different.

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I hope this story gets published in a book.

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I can't wait for the dorama to air. Who will play Nori-P?

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Buddhism Tech, you are really hung up on Sakai's case. I can't recall seeing you post on other stories.

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Sorry. Sakai's parenting is a non-issue. Sakai already made a mistake for going out a lot of time and leaving someone else to take care of her son. The son's developing attachment with someone, who was acting as a mother replacement, is not a noraml sign. Sakai is more like a club-going person.

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This has all the makings of a great made-for-TV movie/mini-series.

Yeah, but only in countries obsessed by minutiae.

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Tragic story all around, I'm Saddened by Nori-P's down fall. Hopefully all of this will be over soon and she can get back to being a mom to her son

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Why did Takeshi Sakai write a letter to Shukan Post? Because he wanted to use Shukan Post to disseminate to create the public sympathy for her half sister and himself. He is worried about the Sakai prosecutors' fact finding and wanting the mass media to use his letter as a "propaganda" which will turn Takaso into a scapegoat (bear a illegal blame for others' problems). He wanted to make Japan to hate Sakai's prosecutors more and more. He could not wait any longer to write it. Timing was so important to him.

Takeshi is so stupid, since Japanese already learned that he was a gang member last month ago.

What about Takaso? Was he a gang member? His relatives? Not enough information about him but Takeshi and Sakai!

It is best for Takeshi to keep his mouth shut and let the court does its job. He already made things worse. Otherwise, he can be in a bigger trouble.

The letter does have some facts but they are mixed up and in a wrong place. It does not help much. Next month, the Sakai prosecutors will have a real truth ready for the listening public.

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What a load of rubbish.

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JapanToday, thank you so much for posting this article, "Noriko Sakai's yakuza upbringing in spotlight."

Pretty sad to realize that Japanese people do not know Sakai any better than I do, despite that I knew very little about Sakai until last month ago, when I started reading news about Sakai and conducting a small research. I first learned about Sakai from her movie, "Ju-on: The Grudge 2" last year ago. After watching the movie, I did a brief research on her but I quickly passed her and moved on, because there were already so many beautiful Japanese actresses. Sakai was just "one of them". I had watched a lot of Japanese movies through Netflix and Cinflix for a few years.

For two decades, Japan was loyally following Sakai's talent but knowing virtually nothing about her real life and past, not until last month and this month. Shocking. I was suspicious about Sakai's connection with yakuza, but I was ridiculed a few times for my yakuza theories.

Well, I am so appreciative of Sakai's half brother's honest letter to Shukan Post. But I feel that Takeshi Sakai is hiding a little, but he does not need to tell everything. This is good enough for Japan to know for now. In October, I think that prosecutors will give more chilling informaton about Sakai than Takeshi's letter can show in the court. They have to do their jobs well, for their sake, recognitions, reputations, and money. Maybe Sakai and her husband will have to compete against each other to win an earlier release.

If the husband has no connection with yakuza, he will have a big advantage. I "suppose" that it was Sakai, not her husband, who first introduced amphetamines. Takeshi's letter told that their father was into drugs. What about Takaso's (Sakai's husband) family? Sakai knew about illegal drugs when she was a young girl, right? Almost all of Japanese children in 1970s/80s knew nothing about illegal drugs, right?

So, it is time for everyone, including Sakai, Takeshi, and Sakai's fans, to stop blaming Takaso for Sakai's problem. Even if Takaso lies to save Sakai's reputation, the Sakai prosecutors will find a way to deny his false claim.

Sakai's fans are really afraid to know her real life a little better, but they have to. What does Sakai want them to do from now? Simple answers: Love and support. Sakai wants them to remember her for her peformances, not her recent misdeed. Sakai can try hard to straighten out her life after she is out of the jail. She can even get off the drugs if she has the Japanese, HK, Chinese, and Taiwanese fans' help. It did work for an American actress who stopped using the illegal drugs, because of her fans' love and support.

BUT her life can be completely damaged forever if someone has an evidence proving that she is very close to yakuza for years. She can be very dangerous if she already has a yakuza background and been making a lot of money via her entertainment job. She would use some to expand a black market business and run a ring or yakuza clan. This is why the police was so tough with Sakai, and prosecutors were taking Sakai's case extremely serious.

Hopefully, there is not a single Japanese woman in Japan who is a boss of a Yakuza clan.

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Does it really matter who the father bought drugs off of? Wait, wasn't he dealing drugs as a yakuza boss? Or was he just a low-life user?

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funny enough, not one mention that the father bought drugs from non-Japanese. Things that make you go hmmmmmm....

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This is beyond ridiculous and just disgusting now. People probably knew about this already, but they're bring it up NOW. The woman broke the law and is now going to court-- I think we can move on with our lives now. Really.

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90% of all "talento" are connected to the yakuza, 99% of all "artist management" for music groups are yakuza... all the boy groups are owned by Jonney's and all the girl groups owned by burning... both with heavy yakuza ties.

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sorry for the past tense, she will be back on track in a few months.

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remember that this woman was a mother model!

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fascinating. lots to be learned about how our upbringing effects our adult life.

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Maybe she'll get out in time to play herself.

I can't believe she is still being held over 0.001 grams. The J-cops obviously wore her down as she has been admitting to doing drugs on Amami and for a long time. That's the j-cops strategy: keep people alone and wore them down until they admit to anything and everything. The sooner this farce is over the better.

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This has all the makings of a great made-for-TV movie/mini-series. Maybe she'll get out in time to play herself.

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May we move on to a new story please?

No, not until every syllable of her name, her family's names, and friends' names are sullied.

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This is almost as annoying as the constant news updates of Michael Jackson. May we move on to a new story please?

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