Pierre Taki's Drug Arrest

Pierre Taki's arrest on suspicion of cocaine use on March 12th has had severe repercussions for the Japanese music and entertainment industry. The frontman for Japanese synthpop group Denki Groove has had a successful career as a musician, actor and even voice actor, having appeared in numerous NHK television dramas (including the currently airing Idaten), films such as Shin Godzilla (AKA Godzilla Resurgence) and the Japanese cinematic adaptation of Attack on Titan, the voice of Olaf in the Japanese dub of the Disney film Frozen 2 and the Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts III, and the Yakuza Kyohei Hamura in Sega's PS4 game Judgment.

Self-Restraint in Corporate Japan

In Japan, drug laws are harsh and the social stigma associated with drug use even harsher. For that reason, Japanese companies typically practice something known as 自粛 jishuku, which translates as "self-restraint," distancing themselves from anyone who has been convicted of drug use.

NHK has announced they will retake already filmed scenes of Idaten featuring Taki, Sony Music Entertainment has cut sales of Taki's music and videos in both physical and digital forms, Disney has announced he will be scrubbed from Frozen 2, and Sega has stopped all sales of Judgment in Japan.

It has become a familiar scenario. We saw this happen to singer and actress Noriko Sakai who was arrested for possessing and using stimulants in 2009 and Aska of pop duo Chage & Aska who was arrested for possessing MDMA in 2014. In both cases, agencies cut ties, record labels cut sales, companies cut commercial appearances, and so on.

109 Cinemas takes a stand

While most Japanese companies react to Pierre Taki's arrest with extreme self-restraint, Japanese theater chain 109 Cinemas (operated by Tokyu Recreation Co., Ltd.) seems to have taken a stand.

Long before the scandal erupted, their Nagoya branch had planned to include Godzilla Resurgence, in which Pierre Taki plays the part of combat leader Saigo, as part of the lineup for the fourth iteration of their popular Bakuon Film Festival, scheduled from March 29th to April 4th.

However, instead of pulling the film from the festival after Taki's arrest as many fans feared, they made the following announcement on their website on March 18th:

Although one of the performers [in our festival's lineup], Pierre Taki, was arrested on suspicion of violating the Narcotics Control Law, the work itself is a piece of entertainment which anyone can enjoy. Therefore, we are proceeding with [the film's] screening as planned. We hope that customers wishing to watch [this film] will understand [our position] when they purchase their tickets.

109 Cinemas Nagoya, March 18th


While there were opinions criticizing 109 Cinemas' decision on Twitter, most of the reactions were in support of the cinema's courageous stand. Here are a few comments which we think summarize the mood:

  • "If you're uncomfortable with it, just don't watch it. The work itself is innocent."
  • "Now THAT is the correct way of handling it."
  • "If it devotes itself exclusively to 'self-restraint,' Japanese entertainment will fall."

By - Ben K.