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Japanese star avoids indecency charges

PROSECUTORS have decided not to charge a Japanese pop star who was arrested for allegedly getting naked while drunk in a Tokyo park, media reports said yesterday.

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, a 34-year-old member of the popular group SMAP, would not be charged because he apologized, Kyodo News agency reported.

Kusanagi was released and apologized in a televised news conference the day after his arrest on April 24.

Prosecutors declined to confirm the report.

Kusanagi allegedly sat on the grass, stark-naked and heavily intoxicated, with his clothes neatly folded up a meter away from him.

Kusanagi admitted he drank too much Japanese rice wine and beer before going to the park and said he had no idea why he undressed himself.

He said he will voluntarily refrain from public appearances for an unspecified period of time to take responsibility for his actions.

Public indecency carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 300,000 yen (US$3,060).

Companies and TV stations dropped him from endorsements and programming following the incident, which was front-page news in Japan.

Kusanagi T-shirts about the incident are now being sold by online retailer ClubT.

The incident has sparked some sympathy for Kusanagi.

Many Japanese complained the slight, serious-looking actor was treated too harshly, especially after he appeared close to tears when he apologized.


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