Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 14 News List

POP STOP

COMPILED BY CATHERINE SHU

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Japanese pop princess Noriko Sakai has been enmeshed in a drug scandal involving several members of her family and a brief and mysterious disappearance on her part — but it’s only helped the chanteuse’s record sales.

Sakai’s estranged husband, Yuichi Takaso, was arrested on Aug. 4 after reportedly being caught with drugs squirreled away in his underwear. Police raided Sakai’s home on a tip from Takaso, a professional surfer, and found a small amount of an illegal drug.

Faced with police requests for questioning, Sakai did what any rational person would do and disappeared with her 10-year-old son, wandering around Japan for several days and causing an intense media frenzy before she finally returned to Tokyo. She tested clean for traces of drugs in her system, but is still under suspicion. If it turns out that Sakai is indeed a user, then it just runs in the family — her younger brother was arrested last month on drug charges.

Despite her weird behavior, Sakai still enjoys a great deal of sympathy from her fans who, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reports have flooded police hotlines with angry phone calls demanding just treatment for their idol.

Without actually admitting culpability, Sakai told reporters that her husband was a pusher who pressured her to take drugs with him last summer. When asked about her alleged flight from justice, Sakai snapped, “I don’t want to talk about that!” before backtracking. She’d been so upset by news of her husband’s arrest, Sakai said, that she’d traveled all over Japan in a state of frenzy. Seeing herself described as a fugitive on TV news made her decide to return to Tokyo.

The president of Sun Music Production, Sakai’s agency, said in a press conference that the company was behind its wayward star 100 percent. Masahisa Aizawa said Sakai would not be fired and then added, somewhat plaintively, “I’ve known her for 23 years. It makes me sad she didn’t tell me about her problems. I hope she does some soul-searching.” Either way, it looks like Aizawa will be able to wipe his tears away on the back of lots and lots of yen notes. Sakai’s songs have been bestsellers on iTunes and Amazon Japan since the scandal broke.

Also suffering some marital discord last week (albeit without drugs involved) was Edward Chiang (蔣友常), the grandson of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), who Next Magazine gleefully reported has already left his wife of nine months, Hong Kong jewelry designer Candice Luk (陸敬賢), and has been spotted all over Taipei with a new and as-of-yet unidentified lady love in tow.

Chiang, who an online survey once named one of Taiwan’s most handsome career men, was hitched last September to Luk in a Montreal ceremony, but did not hold a wedding banquet in Taiwan, which Next seems to consider, in retrospect, a sign that the marriage was doomed.

Next’s spies and photographers caught Chiang and his new paramour holding hands, munching on hamburgers and French fries, laughing at each other’s jokes and fetching groceries — before reportedly heading back to Chiang’s place to spend the night.

The snaps stand in contrast to photos of Chiang and Luk taken just four months ago. The two looked dour even when giving each other good-bye pecks on the mouth. Next speculated that even though Chiang has reportedly already filed for divorce, his extramarital dalliances started when his relationship with Luk was still supposedly going strong.

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