Japan singer Aska convicted of illegal drug use, given 3-year suspended jail sentence

Japanese pop singer Aska, who was released on bail at a Tokyo police station on July 3, 2014. He was convicted on Friday of using illegal drugs in his apartment in Tokyo, and was handed a suspended jail sentence. -- PHOTO: AFP
Japanese pop singer Aska, who was released on bail at a Tokyo police station on July 3, 2014. He was convicted on Friday of using illegal drugs in his apartment in Tokyo, and was handed a suspended jail sentence. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese pop star Aska was convicted on Friday of using illegal drugs in his apartment in Tokyo, and was handed a suspended jail sentence.

Aska - who is part of the popular music duo Chage and Aska - was given a three-year prison term, suspended for four years, after being found guilty of using stimulants and MDMA - commonly known as ecstasy. He was also convicted of possessing synthetic narcotics.

Aska, 56, whose real name is Shigeaki Miyazaki, had initially denied the allegations and rejected news reports that he was a drug addict. But later he admitted the charges and reportedly told investigators that he obtained the narcotics from gangsters.

Chage and Aska made their musical debut in 1979 and remain hugely popular in Japan and other parts of Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Possession and use of drugs in Japan is heavily regulated and the police make much of high-profile arrests.

Aska's conviction comes after the 2009 fall from grace of pop star Noriko Sakai, whose fan base stretched across East Asia. Her clean-cut image was destroyed after she was successfully prosecuted for drug use.