Winners don’t use drugs.
Sega announced today that it has halted Japanese sales of Judgment, the latest action-adventure game from the developer of the Yakuza series.
The reason behind this sudden decision is the fact that Pierre Taki, whose voice and likeness are used in the game as character Kyohei Hamura, was arrested as a suspect for the usage or possession of drugs. While this may not sound like a reason to stop selling a game, similar occurrences are common in Japan’s entertainment business.
The Mainichi News reports that 51-year-old Taki confessed to using a small amount of cocaine, and police are currently searching for further evidence. If prosecuted, Taki could face up to seven years in prison.
On its official website Sega announced, “We have received reports of an arrest and we are currently confirming the facts. We are withdrawing Judgment from sale in Japan for the time being, including both physical and digital editions.”
Sega also stated that it will no longer promote the game online, with the official Japanese website no longer accessible and all past tweets by Sega’s official Twitter account regarding the game being deleted.
It is not known if Sega plans to restart selling the game once things settle down, but the wording of its announcement suggests it could be a temporary move – the Japanese word ‘toumen’ translates roughly as ‘for the time being’, but is not quite as strong a commitment as ‘temporarily’.
It is not known if this incident will have any influence on the Western release of Judgment, which is scheduled for June 25. At the time of writing, the game is still available on the PlayStation Store in Hong Kong and other regions in Asia. IGN has contacted Sega for comment.
Sega does have options if it chooses to put the game back on sale. In the recently released remaster of the Japanese version of Yakuza 4, the voice and likeness of policeman Tanimura were recast after the original actor, Hiroki Narimiya, retired from the entertainment industry following unsubstantiated cocaine rumors. It’s possible that Judgment will similarly receive a patch that replaces the character model and voice for Taki’s character Hamura.
Taki also performs the voice of Olaf in Frozen and in Kingdom Hearts III, and is a member of revered electro duo Denki Groove; there’s no word yet on whether those other projects will be affected.
Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan. He beat Judgement and thought it was OK.