TOKYO – A Japanese pop star was arrested Thursday for public indecency after being found drunk and naked at a Tokyo park, police said.
Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, a member of hugely popular group SMAP, was arrested on the spot after neighbours complained a drunk man was making a fuss in the park, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
“I caused trouble to many people. I am deeply sorry,” 34-year-old Kusanagi was quoted by public broadcaster NHK as saying.
His arrest was the top news item in Japan with major TV networks repeatedly reporting the arrest and broadcasting footage showing Kusanagi being escorted to a police van.
The pop star, sitting on the grass, resisted the arrest, saying, “What’s wrong with being naked?” public broadcaster NHK reported earlier. His clothes were bundled in a ball near him.
Police questioned Kusanagi shortly after his arrest and later raided his apartment. Police declined to give further details. Nippon TV said police seized nothing from his Tokyo apartment.
Kusanagi surged to stardom following his 1991 debut as part of the five-member SMAP, which dominated Japan’s pop music scene, and starred in TV dramas and films. Kusanagi, fluent in Korean, is also popular in South Korea.
The government has used Kusanagi as a promoter of digital terrestrial TV broadcasting, which replaces analog broadcasting in Japan in 2011. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry supports the promotion, and its minister voiced outrage over Kusanagi’s arrest.
“I’m really angry. This is really outrageous,” Kunio Hatoyama told reporters.
Kusanagi’s TV commercials promoting digital terrestrial TV broadcasting will be taken off the air, the ministry said, and posters featuring Kusanagi for the campaign will be withdrawn.
TV footage showed media and fans swarming outside the park and the police station where he was taken for questioning.
Toyota Motor Corp. immediately suspended its rental car commercials featuring the star, company spokeswoman Rie Takano said. Several other companies with contracts with him were expected to follow suit.
Public indecency carries a penalty of up to six months in prison or a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($3,060).