Country aghast over drunk TV star's naked blunder

TOKYO Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:52pm EDT

Japanese star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi is escorted by police out of a police station in Tokyo April 23, 2009. Kusanagi, a member of the pop group SMAP, widely popular across Asia, was arrested early Thursday morning on charges of public indecency after police found him screaming, naked in a Tokyo park, local media said. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japanese star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi is escorted by police out of a police station in Tokyo April 23, 2009. Kusanagi, a member of the pop group SMAP, widely popular across Asia, was arrested early Thursday morning on charges of public indecency after police found him screaming, naked in a Tokyo park, local media said.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi of 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. He was alone and shrieking at the top of his voice, media reports said.

"What's wrong with being naked?" he demanded of a police officer who tried to question him after receiving a complaint about the noise, Kyodo news agency said.

Kusanagi, 34, shot to fame almost 20 years ago as a member of SMAP, the popular boy band whose five members have gone on to monopolize Japanese TV screens in everything from drama to variety and even cookery shows.

The slender 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 South Korea.

"He has such a clean image," one woman told commercial broadcaster TBS. "He doesn't seem like that kind of person."

But Thursday's incident risks damaging the commercial juggernaut of SMAP, whose members, especially heart throb Takuya Kimura, are popular with advertisers.

Corporations including Toyota Motor Corp said they were pulling commercials starring Kusanagi.

Even Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama expressed 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, a big name in the Japanese entertainment world, issued an apology.

"We apologize deeply for the trouble and worry caused to everyone, especially his fans," the agency said in a faxed statement, adding that it would make a further announcement on Kusanagi's future career.

Tokyo police declined to comment on the case.

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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