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Shame on Sakai! But is it the worst shame?
J-poplette Noriko Sakai's drug bust was shocking, but where does it rank among celebrity downfalls in Japan's Year of the Scandal?
Depending on your stomach for car wrecks, 2009 has been either a magnificent or horrible year for the Japanese entertainment world. But which of the wrecks has been most worth looking at? Herewith, a ranking of the year's most shocking Japanese celebrity scandals… so far.
Noriko Sakai, girl next door J-pop singer and actress with fans across Asia
Scandal: On August 8, five days after husband and singer Yuichi Takaso is busted by Shibuya cops with amphetamines in his undies, police charge Sakai with possession of amphetamines. Sakai's DNA was found on straw used for inhaling drugs, and police later find evidence she used drugs at the solar eclipse festival in Amami-Oshima.
Salacious Subplot: "Sports Nippon" reports that Sakai left the couples' 10-year-old son with her husband's mistress while both parents languished in jail.
Shocker Score: 9.0. Only news that Ichiro is involved in an American baby-stealing ring would rock us more.
Manabu Oshio, singer, actor, 'bad boy'
Scandal: On August 2, Oshio flees Roppongi Hills apartment where a Ginza hostess dies after taking MDMA. Now out on bail.
Salacious Subplot: The 'sex den' apartment is traced to CEO of lingerie company Peach John.
Shocker Score: 7.5. Despite lurid manslaughter speculation, only drug charges filed.
Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, least lovable member of beloved boy band SMAP
Scandal: April 23 arrest for public indecency -- drunkenly screaming in a park while running around buck naked -- lands Kusanagi on front page of every major newspaper in the country.
Salacious Subplot: Current PM Yukio Hatoyama's brother Kunio said about Kusanagi, "I can only think of him as a terrible person," which he later retracted.
Shocker Score: 5.5. Humiliating public apology accepted. All better now.
Tetsuya Komuro, mega-wattage musician and songwriter
Scandal: On May 11, the 50-year-old is handed suspended three-year prison sentence for fraudulent sale of copyrights of his songs for ¥500 million -- songs he'd already sold to someone else.
Salacious Subplot: Fraud conviction is latest in long-running career spiral that's included multiple divorces, drugs and stagnating sales.
Shocker Score: 4.0. Aging songster already as well known for misses as hits. And really, this incident made great fodder for his new tell-all book.
Minako Komukai, busty 'gravia' idol adored for sexually provocative photos
Scandal: Arrested in January for use of, what else, amphetamines. In June, new career as stripper gets off to shaky start with breach of contract allegation by her former agency.
Salacious Subplot: Komukai also alleged in a November 2008 issue of "Shukan Post" that the 'gravia' model world is front for sophisticated 'date club' system hooking up girls with wealthy and powerful men.
Shocker Score: 2.0. A future drug arrest was basically in her stars, but it happened a lot faster than expected.