SMAP Member Returns

In what media pundits are calling record time, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi of the aging Japanese boy band SMAP returned to work last week following a month-long hiatus brought about by his arrest for public indecency April 23.

Wearing a somber dark suit and a suitably serious expression, the 34-year-old pop star and actor held a press conference May 28 where he apologized yet again for excessive drinking that led to his getting naked in a Tokyo park and making a lot of noise in the middle of the night.

During the press conference, his second public act of contrition since the park incident, he promised to never “over-drink” again and expressed his joy at being able to return to work with SMAP.

Following his arrest, police raided Kusanagi’s apartment, prompting a public outcry over the heavy-handed response to such a minor infraction.

The day of the press conference, Kusanagi participated in a taping of SMAP’s weekly TV variety show and the following morning resumed his place as a co-host of a daily noontime talk program.

What’s more, it has been reported that the advertising jobs that were canceled after the arrest will likely be reinstated, including his high-profile spokesman gig for the government’s digital TV promotion.

Normally, stars involved in such scandals are forced to suspend their activities for months or even years before broadcasters and advertisers feel comfortable using them again.

The fact that Kusanagi was out of commission for only 35 days is seen as evidence of just how much power SMAP and its talent agency, Johnny’s & Associates, wield in Japanese show business.