J-pop star Kimutaku caught speeding twice

TOKYO - Ageing boyband star and Japanese pop culture icon Takuya Kimura has been caught speeding twice in four months, casting a shadow over a sponsorship deal with Toyota, reports said Tuesday.

The heartthrob, whose increasingly middle-aged female fanbase spreads throughout Asia, was caught doing up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour on a motorway with a speed limit of 80 kph last September, the weekly Shukan Bunshun said.

The 39-year-old, who shot to fame as a member of fivepiece SMAP, was with his actress wife Shizuka Kudo in a Chevrolet Astro on the way to a popular surf spot when he was pulled over, the magazine said.

Kimura, known to his legion fans by the nickname Kimutaku, was again charged with speeding on a street in Tokyo in January, his agent said in a statement published in Japanese newspapers. His driver's licence was suspended.

"He has paid the penalty in each case," the statement said, offering "profound apologies" for his offences.

"Kimura himself deeply regrets that he has acted in a shameful manner... and vows not to repeat such a thing."

SMAP started out as a fresh-faced boy band some 20 years ago, and despite sometimes obvious musical shortcomings, they have remained popular in Japan and across Asia.

Kimutaku has starred in a series of Toyota commercials since last October with popular Japanese comedian-actor-filmmaker "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, under the slogan "Fun to Drive Again."

"It was very regrettable," a Toyota spokesman said when asked about Kimutaku's misdeed. "We have asked him to abide by traffic rules".

He added that the company had no immediate plan to end the commercials.

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