As many of you readers are aware—especially those who are fans of Kingdom Hearts III and are presently anticipating the upcoming international release of Sega’s Judgement—Pierre Taki, a famous actor and singer who serves as a seiyuu to both games, has recently been arrested due to drug related charges. As a result, Square Enix and Disney plan on re-casting his role as the Japanese voice of Olaf and upgrading his voice through a patch for Kingdom Hearts III, and Disney of Japan has presently halted sales of Frozen (Blu-Ray and DVD) in Japan. Sega has halted present sales of Judgement (or Judge Eyes in Japan) in Japan with its international release under re-evaluation upon the drafting of this article. So, why did these Japanese companies take such drastic measures?
Drug Laws in Japan
Japan prides itself by having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. When it comes to its drugs laws, not only are they strictly written, but strictly enforced. Their drug laws are strict to the point that certain prescription medications for mental health and asthma are illegal to bring into the country unless you have a doctor’s note. Heck, it’s even technically illegal to bring in NyQuil into the country (speaking from experience)! In 2015, this was demonstrated when Julie Hamp, an American who was working as the head of PR for Toyota, was arrested for violating drug laws when she attempted to have oxycodone for her knees mailed to her address in Japan, where it happens to be illegal (and she claimed she wasn’t aware). Thankfully, she was cleared of all charges. While the prosecution never said why they dropped the charges, to an American point of view, with no intent to commit a crime, it is impossible to prosecute.
Considering how hard Japan can be with medicinal drugs that are common at a corner store pharmacy in America, just imagine how hard they are with recreational drugs. This is where Pierre Take comes in. Based on information from an undercover investigation, law enforcement searched his property where they couldn’t find any drugs, but he still tested positive for cocaine upon his arrest. Since his arrest, he has shared with the public that he has been using cocaine since his twenties, so he has not denied the charges. As far as we know, he is still in custody upon the drafting of this article. As to what the consequences are legally, we can’t say for sure since we can’t find any articles on what the prosecution wants. He could face jail time, pay a fine, serve community service, or all of the above. Though we have yet to wait for the sentencing of a trial by the system, the court of public and corporate opinion have immediately given their sentence.
Culture of Shame
A lot of international gamers who are waiting for the release of Judgement are aware of the situation, but don’t understand the logic behind Sega presently halting sales in Japan and why it could affect its upcoming international release. As seen on many gaming forums and social media sites, a lot of non-Japanese gamers understand what Taki did was wrong, but they don’t understand why Sega needs to halt its sales since they’re not responsible for what he did, and from a Western point of view, those feelings are understandable. Naturally, this can be explained through basic cultural differences.
In comparison to most Western societies, Japan emphasizes more on shame. This relates to how they’re dominantly populated by one ethnicity and can easily share culture values subliminally and non-subliminally, and this goes back to the samurai era. If you do something bad, then you’ve disgraced your family and everyone else you associate with. Since Sega and Square Enix don’t want to be associated with a criminal with serious charges against them, they want to show their shame by removing him from their products. However, due to recent shifts in American society, the WWE did the same with Chris Benoit and Disney with James Gunn due to the controversies surrounding them.
In the Japanese court system, as far as we can tell, there are no equivalents to a Johnnie Cochran or the rest of OJ Simpson’s legal team that can get you off. It’s not that they don’t exist, the system with how it operates simply makes it difficult to have the equivalent to such elite lawyers to the point that it has a 99.8% conviction rate (which is ironically addressed in Judgement). In Japan, there are no concepts of Miranda warnings, and while the equivalent to the 5th Amendment, the US right to remain silent, does technically exist in Japan under the 14th amendment of its respective constitution, it’s not enforced in the same manner as it is in the US.
If you admit you’re guilty under their confession system, then that’s that. With the way interrogations work in Japan (where you don’t have the right to legal representation being present), they break you until you confess and based on those confessions, you can be found guilty. While we’re presently not aware if Taki has signed such a confession, but based on his previous statements to the media, he has admitted his guilt to the public. We’re not here to criticize the system despite how their conviction rate is questionable, but all we can do is wait for more facts and how it affects his future products.
Is there room for redemption like Michael Vick and Robert Downey, Jr.? Unfortunately in Japan, such a road is next to impossible. In America, most scandals are written off with a fine, community service and/or suspension like the NFL’s recent problems with spousal abuse. In Japan, it can mean your whole livelihood when they take such accusations seriously since they’re motivated by shame, and not by profits.