Paul McCartney released from Japan prison

Friday, January 25, 1980

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After 10 days spent in jail, Paul McCartney was released and ordered to leave the country on the same day. In the morning, Linda McCartney left the Metropolitan Police Department, and had those words to the pressing journalists:

Linda: I didn’t see Paul.

When you saw him yesterday, what did he say?

Linda: He’s been good, told a few jokes.

What did he say?

Linda: I don’t remember…..they were having a sing-song among the prisoners…

Is he enjoying himself?

Linda: He’s keeping his spirits up.

Is he irritated by the Japanese police and the law here?

Linda: No, he understands…

Interview from “The Solo Beatles Film & TV Chronicle 1971-1980“, by Jörg Pieper (with Ian MacCarthy)

Hours later, the prosecutor’s office issued the following statement, and ordered McCartney to leave the country on this day:

Charges were not brought against McCartney because he had brought in the marijuana solely for his own use and that he has already been punished enough as a result of the incident.

At 4.00pm, McCartney left the Metropolitan Police Department, with a crowd of journalists waiting for him.

At 5.15pm, Paul arrived at Tokyo Narita Airport, and was led towards the Immigration Office. To an interviewer, Paul has those words:

What do you think about the Japanese authorities?

Paul: Very good. they treated me very well.

You have any second thoughts now about marijuana?

Paul: Yeah….and a third.

Will you try to come back to Japan?

Paul: Yes I will try…

What do you think about marijuana?

Paul: It was a big mistake.

Interview from “The Solo Beatles Film & TV Chronicle 1971-1980“, by Jörg Pieper (with Ian MacCarthy)

Linda McCartney and their children arrived separately at the airport. They finally met with Paul inside the plane. The flight left Japan at 0.30 am to Amsterdam as its final destination, with a stop to Anchorage for refuelling. On board, Paul was interviewed for the Japanese television:

You are free after 10 days, how do you feel right now?

Paul: I feel very relieved.

How did you bring marijuana into Japan?

It was a mistake really. I was in America and the attitude is very different there from how it is in Japan. I didn’t realize that it’s so strict.

Some people said you challenged against Japanese officials, is that correct?

No, it wasn’t intended.

Many fans in Japan, especially young girls, said Paul betrayed us, what do you think of it?

I’m probably as disappointed as they are, that we couldn’t do the shows. I feel sorry for those fans but I’m sure you know…we’ll get over it and maybe we come back sometime and do the shows, I hope so anyway.

So you don’t like Japan or Japanese anymore?

That’s not true, I think you are great. The people are very nice you know and I have nothing against them whatsoever…

Do you think this experience will affect your music life?

I’m not sure, you’ll never know. I might get a song out of it.


You’ll never know, maybe with some Japanese words.

Did you make some kind of music in prison?

Yes, I’m always singing….keeps my spirits up, you know.

What kind of song did you sing?

(Paul starts singing some Japanese words) That kind of song you know.

Last question, do you still like to smoke marijuana?

No, I quit on the plane… I’m not kidding.

Interview from “The Solo Beatles Film & TV Chronicle 1971-1980“, by Jörg Pieper (with Ian MacCarthy)

From A brief history of the Beatles’ (brief) time in Alaska (, July 6, 2014:

The JAL 747 taking him back to Europe refueled [in Anchorage] on Jan. 26.

Most of the 200 passengers on the plane got off to stretch. McCartney briefly stepped out of the plane and waved, but otherwise stayed in his seat during the 90-minute stopover.

The only Alaskan reported to have spoken with him was Joyce Horne, a ground agent with Servair. She gave Sir Paul a Fur Rondy pin and suggested that he should perform here. McCartney asked how big the city was and said he’d think about it.

He might have made a faster decision if he’d realized how far the city had progressed since 1966. The same week he touched down on the Anchorage tarmac, B.B. King was doing shows a couple of miles away at the International Inn and Joe Cocker was scheduled to play there the following week. Surely the town could have mustered up an audience for Wings.

(this was the second time Paul McCartney was in Anchorage, the first time was with the Beatles on June 27, 1966)

Paul McCartney would finally return to Japan 10 years later, for his 1990 world tour.

Last updated on November 5, 2022

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