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A standard and horribly cliched J-pop ritual is the public confession of guilt by performers who have done various naughty things — much like politicians who temporarily drop out of sight after being found on the take or caught rigging elections. The most recent example is SMAP member Goro Inagaki, who has apparently been “rehabilitated” after taking a leave of absence from the male idol group.

Inagaki became a semi-unperson (he didn’t perform with the group during their summer 2001 tour, for example), following an incident last year in which he allegedly resisted arrest and bumped a policewoman with his car when she tried to give him a parking ticket. After taking time off to reflect on his miscreant behavior and making various public statements of heartfelt remorse, Inagaki is now back on TV shows such as “SMAP×SMAP,” that extraordinarily curious program in which the members of the group cook up a meal for a celebrity guest each week. Will they make him eat crow on air? Maybe just humble pie . . .

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