Aska Arrested

Veteran Japanese pop singer Aska, of the duo Chage & Aska, was arrested for possession of illegal drugs May 17 in Tokyo.

Police later searched the apartment of the entertainer, whose real name is Shigeaki Miyazaki, and found 90 MDMA (Ecstasy) tablets, though the term used was “stimulants.”

Supposedly, police use this vague term in order to divert interest in the kind of drug itself, lest it inadvertently spur greater drug use. Aska denied the charge, saying he has never used drugs in his life, but the police may have been working on an assumption based on an article published by a weekly magazine last fall that speculated that Aska had become an addict after experimenting with drugs some years ago during a sabbatical in the UK.

Along with the ecstasy tabs, police reportedly found kits used for drug testing, sparking media speculation that Aska was trying to control his drug intake so as not to get caught.

Chage & Aska debuted in 1979 and were mostly popular in the 1980s, when their records routinely went gold. To date they have sold more than 31 million singles and albums. In the ’90s they were able to extend their popularity to other parts of Asia, particularly Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but for the last decade their sales in Japan have dwindled.

Aska has released several solo albums but the duo has never officially disbanded.

Though such notoriety usually translates into a bump in sales, the two Japanese record companies who have released Aska’s music, whether in duo or solo form, have suspended sales since the arrest.

In a related story, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper interviewed an anonymous organized crime figure who says he does brisk business selling drugs to Japanese show business personalities.

He even claims that famous stars seek him out to buy drugs. He said his syndicate regularly buys drugs in bulk, repackages them into 0.5-gram packets for one-time use, and sells them to “end users.” A recent U.N. report says that Japan is now the No. 1 market in Asia for methamphetamine, owing mainly to the very high street price, which attracts organized crime groups.

It costs twice as much to buy meth in Japan as it does to buy it in the U.S. In addition, from 2012 to 2013 drug arrests in Japan tripled. In most cases, once a show biz personality in Japan is arrested for drugs, it is the end of his or her career.