The country got its first look at actress/singer Sakai Noriko in 40 days yesterday. Sakai (38) was released on ¥5-million bail from the detention center at Tokyo Wangan police station and was greeted by a wall of camera flashes and reporters. There were fans and supporters amongst the crowd, with one group holding a banner that said “Omedetou” (Congratulations). Dressed in a simple dark pants suit, Sakai addressed the cameras directly, bowing and apologizing for the trouble she caused with her drug arrest. She was then taken to a downtown hotel where she gave a press conference two hours later together with her lawyer and executives of her former management agency and record company (both of whom canceled her contracts after her arrest).
The conference lasted just ten minutes and no questions from the more than 500 reporters (photo) were answered. As expected there were tears and promises never to touch drugs again, and also skeptical media comments that the whole thing was no more than another performance from someone used to the spotlight since her mid-teens. One report questioned what happened to the star-shaped tattoo that was visible on the middle finger of her left hand at the time of her release but gone by the press conference (one photo showed clearly that it was concealed with foundation). Sakai’s husband, released on related charges the day before, went so far as to wear gloves to hide his multiple tattoos. His trial begins at the Tokyo District Court on October 21, Sakai’s on October 26.
In the meantime, after the press conference Sakai was admitted to the Tokyo Medical University Hospital in Shinjuku, which is said to have a state of the art drug rehabilitation facility. Sakai’s stepmother is currently undergoing treatment for lung cancer at the same hospital.
Takaso Yuichi Out on Bail (Sep. 17, 2009)
Noripi Turns Herself In (Aug. 8, 2009)
Noripi’s Hubby in Latest Drug Arrest (Aug. 4, 2009)