Japanese singer-actress Noriko Sakai was given a suspended jail sentence on Monday for using illegal stimulants in the latest celebrity drugs case in Japan.
The court handed down an 18-month jail term, suspended for three years, to 38-year-old Sakai who shot to fame in the late 1980s with pop songs and later turned to acting. Prosecutors had demanded 18 months in prison.
She had 0.008 grams of an unidentified illegal stimulant in her possession.
If she stays crime-free for three years the case against her will be dropped.
Sakai’s drug scandal has made headlines in Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan where she has many fans, since she and her husband, Yuichi Takaso, were arrested in August for possessing and using drugs.
More than 3,000 people lined up in a park near the courtroom for one of the 21 gallery tickets to hear the verdict.
“I miss the days when she made her debut and became a cute sensation. Now that she’s in this kind of situation, I’m in shock,” said Yoshiyuki Fujimoto, a 42-year-old computer programmer, who lined up for a courtroom seat.
She pleaded guilty to drug use and possession.
A somber-faced, black-clad Sakai was driven away from the court without making a statement.
She was arrested on Aug. 8, a week after her husband Takaso, 41, was taken into custody after police caught him with drugs in Tokyo’s Shibuya entertainment district.
Sakai told the court she started using drugs about four years ago, encouraged by Takaso, and had used them almost every month since the summer of last year as she was “exhausted physically and mentally.”
She has reportedly said she plans to divorce her husband.
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