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Ex-entertainer Masashi Tashiro tells Japan court found drugs felt like 'opportunity'

Defendant Masashi Tashiro is seen in the Miyagi prefectural city of Shiogama in this photo taken on Nov. 8, 2019. (Mainichi/Issei Takizawa)

SENDAI -- A former entertainer who has been charged with possession of marijuana and use of stimulants testified at the first hearing of his trial that he found the stimulants in the bathroom of an event site, and saw it as an "opportunity."

The trial of Masashi Tashiro, 63, took place at the Sendai District Court Feb. 13.

Tashiro entered the courtroom wearing a white shirt, black jacket, and black-rimmed glasses. Asked what his occupation was, he said, "I am an entertainer, but have not worked as one for a long time."

When questioned, Tashiro explained that he had quit his job as a staff member at Japan Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center (DARC) -- a facility that assists drug addicts to become independent -- due to financial reasons in January 2019. Subsequently, he became tied up with so-called anti-social organizations, or those with ties to crime syndicates, and began getting stimulants from them. Tashiro said that he began using stimulants from about August of the same year.

As for the stimulants that Tashiro had in his possession at the time of his arrest, he said that in a makeshift toilet at a motorcycle event that he participated in that October, he'd found a syringe with stimulants in it. He recalled that he thought of it as "an opportunity."

Meanwhile, the marijuana that he had, he explained, was given to him by someone who attended a lecture he gave as a DARC staffer. When asked by prosecutors whether he thought about throwing it away, Tashiro responded, "I thought that if I had a chance, I'd use it."

Tashiro says he now lives in an addiction rehabilitation facility in Ibaraki Prefecture. Asked about his future, he said, "There is no end to treatment, so I will stay at the facility forever." He also emphasized, "The length of time in which I've been off (drugs) has been getting longer and longer. The program I've been in has not been a mistake."

This day, Tashiro's son watched the hearing from the gallery for the first time. "There's no denying that (my son) has felt pain over this. I think that he is here because he understands his father, and wants him to get back on his own two feet."

In their closing arguments, prosecutors said, "Tashiro's dependency on drugs is striking. Tashiro has not sincerely repented for his actions, and there is a high possibility for a repeat offense," and recommended a prison sentence of three years and six months.

The defense, meanwhile, sought a suspended sentence, saying, "Tashiro has repented, and is enthusiastic about rehabilitation. It is necessary to allow him the chance to continue a treatment program for drug dependency within society."

A sentence will be handed down March 4.

(Japanese original by Hana Fujita and Issei Takizawa, Sendai Bureau)

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