• Kyodo News


Pop star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi faced reporters Friday night and apologized to fans and fellow SMAP members over his arrest the previous day for stripping naked while drunk in a central Tokyo park — an episode he can’t remember.

“I drank lots of alcohol and fell into a state where I couldn’t figure out what I was doing,” said Kusanagi, 34, in dark suit and tie. “I did something I’m ashamed of as an adult and I deeply regret it.”

He is unlikely to appear on TV programs or commercials for the time being.

After visiting the Tokyo prosecutor’s office earlier Friday, the member of popular music group SMAP was taken back to Harajuku Police Station, where he was freed.

Kusanagi was apprehended on a charge of public indecency at around 3 a.m. Thursday at a park next to the Tokyo Midtown complex in the Roppongi-Akasaka district, after a man living nearby called the police to report a disturbance.

The pop star will probably not be charged.

Kusanagi has been a regular performer on Fridays on Fuji Television Network Inc.’s daily lunchtime show “Waratte Iitomo!” (“You Can Laugh!”), but Fuji TV announcer Rio Hirai said in the latest feed that he “is absent today because of the situation as reported in the news.”

Fuji TV also plans to remove images of Kusanagi from its Monday night program “SMAP X SMAP,” which features all the band’s five members, by recomposing it with footage from previous shows, while TV Asahi Corp. will cut footage in its Tuesday night program in which Kusanagi appears.

Kusanagi is believed to have drunk more than 10 glasses of beer and “shochu” distilled spirits over a period of about six hours before his arrest, police investigators said Friday.

After his arrest, he was taken to a hospital and put on a drip due to his weak physical condition, but recovered Friday morning, police said.

He drank alcohol at a bar in Akasaka, Minato Ward, from around 8 p.m. Wednesday through around 1 a.m. Thursday and then went to another bar nearby, leaving that premises at around 2 a.m. to walk to the park, the police said.

A lawyer quoted Kusanagi as saying, “I went to the first bar and ate and drank alone, and then drank with its owner and a female employee after the bar closed.”

He said he regrets what he did but does not remember how he got to the park or why he stripped, the police said.

Kusanagi’s arrest has had huge repercussions in not only the entertainment industry but also in quarters ranging from business to the government.

An angry Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama called Kusanagi a “bastard” Thursday as the ministry had designated him to promote Japan’s shift to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. But in the face of protests from a sympathetic public, Hatoyama retracted the comment Friday, saying he used “too strong a word.”

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