Legally, there’s often quite a lot wrong with public nudity and the consequences are extremely high if you are a public figure, a member of a popular boy-band (SMAP is like N’Sync circa ’98, we’re talking pop-u-lar), and live in Japan. Last weekend Tsuyoshi Kusanagi scored three for three when police found him loud, drunk, and nude in a Tokyo park. His reported defense at the scene: “There’s nothing wrong with being naked.” For once I found myself agreeing with Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara who felt there was no need to blow this incident out of proportion. However, what is phenomenal is that the Japanese public insists on it. Something in the cultural notions of honor, integrity, and humility makes this a very big deal in Japan. Along with compromised honor (which in Japan doesn’t stop with the individual, but extends to colleagues, friends, and family) Tsuyoshi faces the loss of endorsements, public criticism, and blacklisting from particular hotel and car services. More than the press frenzy, the public condemnation has this intrigued writer wondering how must Japanese fans of Western music reconcile the gaffes of celebrities who hail from the lands of Lohan and Winehouse? It’s fair enough that the burden of national integrity stops at the borders, but the implications of the consumer vote, that the yen is a vote of support, seem to have no bearing on the selection of personalities imported.
Reuters reports on Tsuyoshi’s public apology here.