Clean-cut Japanese boy band star shamed by arrest for indecency

Media helicopters hovered overhead and photographers camped out in front of Japan's top talent agency yesterday after one of television's cleanest-cut stars was arrested for public indecency.

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, from the pop group SMAP, was found drunk and naked in a public park in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning, his agency said in a statement. According to media reports, he was alone and shrieking at the top of his voice. "What's wrong with being naked?" he reportedly demanded of a police officer who tried to question him after receiving a complaint about the noise.

Kusanagi, 34, shot to fame almost 20 years ago as a member of SMAP, a popular boy band whose five members have gone on to monopolise Japanese TV.

Kusanagi is seen as perhaps the most serious of the five, known for his acting skills and fluency in Korean, which brought him fame in Seoul. "He has such a clean image," one female fan told TBS television. "He doesn't seem like that kind of person."

The incident yesterday risks damaging the commercial juggernaut of SMAP, whose members, especially the heart throb Takuya Kimura, are popular with advertisers. Corporations including Toyota said they were pulling commercials starring Kusanagi. Even the Japanese Communications Minister, Kunio Hatoyama, expressed his anger, because the actor was the face of a government campaign to get the public to switch to digital television.

Kusanagi's agency, Johnny & Associates, issued an apology, which said: "We apologise deeply for the trouble and worry caused to everyone, especially his fans."

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