Japan pop star free after naked arrest

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 24, 2009 at 10:12 AM EDT

Japanese pop star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi was released Friday, one day after being arrested on public indecency charges for allegedly being drunk and naked in a Tokyo park, prosecutors said.

The 34-year-old pop idol reportedly told police he did not remember stripping off after drinking about 10 beers and spirits in a night-time escapade that has cost him a string of lucrative advertising deals.

Companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Procter and Gamble and one government ministry said they would pull commercials featuring the pop idol and actor, long popular in Japan and beyond for his squeaky clean image.

Local media have reported every step of the saga since Kusanagi, a member of the wildly popular boy band SMAP that first gained fame in the early 1990s, was arrested before dawn Thursday following complaints from a neighbour.

"I drank a lot of alcohol and lost myself," Kusanagi told a news conference in Tokyo, referring to his actions as a "shameful act as an adult".

"I sincerely apologise for causing trouble to people, officials concerned and members of SMAP," an expressionless Kusanagi said, bowing deeply once.

The naked pop star was singing and muttering incoherently in the park near Tokyo's Roppongi nightclub district and struggled with officers when they detained him and wrapped him in a sheet, media reports said.

Kusanagi later recalled having drunk more than 10 glasses of beer and Japanese shochu liquor Wednesday night and reportedly told police that "there was something that I was really frustrated about."

Police said a urine test and a search of his apartment -- which angered his mostly female fans and led scores to bombard police with phone complaints -- found no evidence of illegal drug abuse, media reports said.

The incident infuriated Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama, whose ministry has featured Kusanagi in its campaign to promote the 2011 start of nationwide terrestrial digital broadcasting.

Hatoyama, a conservative former justice minister, called Kusanagi a "disgusting" man after his arrest but retracted the remark Friday.

Boy band SMAP -- which stands for "Sports Music Assemble People" -- became hugely popular in Japan and elsewhere in Asia with a string of chart-topping hits.

Its members have moved on to roles in television dramas and movies, and Kusanagi has starred in films and featured in many commercials.

In South Korea, he is better known as "Cho Nan Kang" and is admired for his good command of the Korean language.




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