Kusanagi romp makes waves as real crimes go unpunished

Dear Tokyo Metropolitan Police,

Shoichi Nakagawa was Japan’s finance minister, possibly drunk on taxpayer money at a Group of Eight ministers’ meeting called to address the global financial crisis in Rome. Was that criminal negligence?

Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa was neither naked nor drunk when his scandal hit, but does that excuse the behavior of these professional men who are supposed to look after our money, our safety, and our children in Japan? There are food-mislabeling scandals, nuclear plant fires, the Orix-Kampo no Yado hotel “fire sale” fiasco, and people are dying in ambulances because hospitals refuse to accept them. These seem like real issues to me.

So why all the fuss over Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, the SMAP star who was arrested for singing naked while drunk? I have not seen the media so excited since Tama the sea lion was seen again in 2003.

How many Japanese men and women get drunk on an average night, puke anywhere, then sleep in stations or on the street? How many times are drunk people cheated out of money or roughed up in places like Tokyo’s Kanda, Gotanda, Kabukicho, Ogikubo, or elsewhere? Why is it that one man who had an incredible busy schedule — and so much responsibility to entertain us — could not make a mistake and be forgiven in due course?

Michael Jordan gambled, but he was forgiven. Ski jumper Masahiko Harada choked in 1994 before winning the gold medal four years later in Nagano. Bill Clinton is still a hero, and maybe he did not have relations with Monica Lewinsky, but he stood there while she had relations with him. I could go on, but the point is: We are all human and make mistakes.

The Tokyo police once gave me a ride home after I had had too many Long Island ice teas and was sleeping on a street corner near a landmark shopping store at 8 p.m. on a Friday night. Wow, was my wife pissed, but she forgave me eventually, just as I hope we can forgive Kusanagi for being human and losing control.

Look at the bright side: He was not arrested like the famous actor Hugh Grant for propositioning a prostitute (who then went on to become an acting sensation herself). Kusanagi may have been exposing himself like Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens, but at least he was not committing lewd acts.

I was upset over the way the arrest was handled. If I were Kusanagi’s agent, I would have said someone in Roppongi had spiked his drink. The American and British embassies have both recently released warnings about drink-spiking in Roppongi. I would have advised Tsuyoshi Kusanagi to say, “I am terribly sorry, but I was drinking with some girls. They were cute, but they did not want to go home with me. Lonely and desiring some intimate contact, I met a nice girl on the way home as I was walking through Roppongi, and next thing I remember I was naked in the park singing with no clothes on.”

I mean, it’s a perfect excuse, particularly as the police searched his house for banned substances following the arrest. (Did the police perhaps think Kusanagi was the mysterious traveler whose luggage was planted with 124 grams of marijuana during the May 2008 Narita training fiasco, and that they could recover some of the dope?)

I hope everyone will forgive Kusanagi’s mistake, in the same way we have the other celebrities listed above. If the television stations and media continue to say bad things about Kusanagi and make the former SMAP star the scapegoat for everything, I hope he considers leaving television and starting a career in adult video. After all, how cool would it be to see him naked legally?


Submissions to Hotline to Nagatacho should address issues that affect your life in Japan or be in response to government policies. Please imagine you are actually writing to a government official — be it a local school board head or the prime minister himself — to bring attention to an important matter. Send submissions of between 500 and 700 words to community@japantimes.co.jp

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