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Anti-drugs poster girl faces drug charges. -

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ELEANOR HALL: She was an actor and singer with a girl-next-door image and she was also an
anti-drugs campaigner. Now Japanese star, Noriko Sakai, has surrendered to police, after nearly a
week on the run over drug-possession charges.

North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports from Tokyo that the story has stunned her fans in
Japan, China and Taiwan.

(Noriko Sakai song)

MARK WILLACY: To the Japanese Noriko Sakai is the pretty, wholesome, girl next door. A sort of
Asian Kylie Minogue without the revealing hot pants and gyrating male dancers. But in an instant
the 38-year-old went from superstar singer to fleet-footed fugitive.

NEWS PRESENTER: An arrest warrant has been issued for pop singer and actress Noriko Sakai on
suspicion of illegal drug possession. She's been missing since Monday and thought to be on the run.

MARK WILLACY: Noriko Sakai's troubles began when her self-styled surfer-dude husband was stopped by
police on the street and found with a bag of stimulants down his underpants. Sakai was summoned to
the arrest site but refused a police request to come down to the station for a urine test. Instead
she deposited her 10-year-old son with a friend and hit the road.

(Teenage fan speaking.)

"This is unbelievable," says this teenage fan. "I feel so sorry for her," she says.

After finding stimulants and a drug device at Noriko Sakai's home, police issued a warrant for her
arrest. This scandal has already cost the singer-turned-fugitive her wholesome, good-girl image,
and now it's costing her cold, hard cash.

The world's biggest car-maker Toyota has pulled the plug on an ad featuring the pop-star.

(Noriko Sakai video)

And now the country's Supreme Court has stopped showing a video starring Sakai which has been used
to promote Japan's new jury system, probably because the pop star could soon find herself in front
of a jury.

(Masahisa Aizawa speaking)

Left to front the frenzied Japanese media pack was Masahisa Aizawa, the president of Sakai's
management company.

"This incident has caused everyone great concern," says Mr Aizawa, "And for that I apologise," he
says with a bow.

"If I could tell Noriko anything, it would be give yourself up as quickly as possible," he says.

Over the weekend she turned herself into police.

Overall, it's been a pretty scandalous year for Japan's usually squeaky-clean pop idols. In April a
member of the super-group SMAP was found drunk, naked and screaming in a Tokyo park. After
apologising to the nation, and spending weeks in self-imposed exile, he made a triumphant comeback.


But with a serious drugs charge hanging over her head, Noriko Sakai may not be forgiven so readily.

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for The World Today.