Former top idol singer Sakai Noriko (38) received her verdict in the drug case that has gripped the country for the last few months. At the Tokyo District Court this morning, judge Murayama Hiroaki handed her an 18-month sentence, suspended for 3 years for possession and use of amphetamines. The period of the suspended sentence was shorter than the 5 years given to actor Oshio Manabu (31) last week. Sakai’s husband, Takaso Yuichi, is also on trial on the same charges and is due to receive his verdict later this month. Sakai arrived in court today dressed in suitably sober black from head to toe. The judge told her, “You have played various roles in dramas, but unfortunately this case is reality. I hope you will be able to carry the burden (of this crime) and restart your life.” After giving his verdict the judge asked Sakai to repeat it. He prompted once more when she initially hesitated, until she was able to do so clearly.
• Singer Ko Biho died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on Saturday. She was 82. A Chinese national born in Wakayama Prefecture, she became a popular star of the postwar period. She made her showbiz debut in the 1951 movie “Shanghai Gaeri no Riru.” From 1952 on she had a series of hits with reworked versions of songs from during the war. She converted to Christianity in 1974 and became a gospel singer, performing at churches and welfare centers across the country.