THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The drug-related arrest of singer-songwriter Aska shocked fans in Japan and across East Asia, but the leader of a yakuza organization says stimulant use is nothing new in the world of show business.
The crime gang, based in the northern Kanto region, deals in stimulants, and its regular customers include several people from the entertainment industry, he said.
“Our group is known for dealing in drugs, so show-folk would come to know us by word of mouth and approach,” the mob boss said. He said the gang receives drug orders from either the entertainers themselves or their managers and acquaintances.
Aska, 56, half of the music duo Chage and Aska and one of Japan’s biggest pop stars in the 1990s, was arrested on May 17 on suspicion of possessing stimulant drugs.
Police said they also found about 90 tablets of MDMA, more popularly known as Ecstasy, at his residence in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, as well as simple urine test kits to detect stimulant components.
Investigators suspect Aska, whose real name is Shigeaki Miyazaki, used the kits to avoid being caught in drug testing, and that he took illegal drugs on daily basis.
On May 18, police sent papers to prosecutors on Aska and an acquaintance, Kasumi Tochinai, 37, who is also suspected of possessing drugs.
The two suspects have both denied the allegations.
Drug laws are very strict in Japan, and drug-related scandals involving Japanese celebrities have sparked media circuses and can ruin careers.
In August 2009, a popular idol-turned-actress and her husband were arrested on suspicion of possessing stimulants. In November last year, an actor couple was also arrested over allegations they jointly used stimulants at their residence in Tokyo.
A former popular TV entertainer who was repeatedly arrested over suspected use of stimulants and cocaine said during his trial that he turned to drugs to deal with the “pressure of high expectations” from the audience.
The crime group in northern Kanto buys stimulants in bulk on a periodic basis, repackages them into 0.5-gram packages for one-time use, and sells them to end users. It is an “easy and lucrative business,” the mobster said.
Stimulants are addictive because “they liberate users from fatigue and worries,” and users “cannot stop once they use them although they are destroying their bodies,” the mob boss said.
According to National Police Agency, 10,909 people were arrested over suspected violations of the Stimulants Control Law in 2013, including 2,206 people aged 50 or older.
The number of older suspects has risen in recent years.