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Friday, 24 January, 2003, 23:16 GMT
Britney 'misunderstood' fan
Britney Spears
Spears claims the man sent notes to her
Britney Spears has been accused of a "cultural misunderstanding" by a lawyer defending a Japanese man she says stalked her for three months.

The American pop singer filed a request for a restraining order at a Los Angeles court against Masahiko Shizawa of Yokohama, claiming the 41-year-old had "tracked and attempted to contact" her at her house since September.

He's a VIP in Japan - he had no intent

Simon Hiller
lawyer for Masahiko Shizawa
Mr Shizawa's lawyer told the court his client was "a VIP in Japan" and had "no intent" to harm her.

But the 21-year-old singer says that Mr Shizawa called at another of her homes and also at a home used by her parents, both outside California.

Mr Shizawa allegedly sent notes to the pop star saying "I'm chasing you" and refused to leave her property when asked to.

Court order

Ms Spears' lawyer, Joel Strote, asked that Mr Shizawa be banned from coming within 915 metres (1,000 yards) of the singer, and from contacting her at all.

Mr Shizawa was not in court for the restraining order request.

According to a US television show, he has been forced to return to Japan as his visa has expired.

The show also says that Mr Shizawa is a well-respected computer programmer who "made millions of dollars with technology patents" and has no criminal record.

A hearing of the case has been postponed until 28 February.

Time off

The pop singer is currently taking a six-month sabbatical from music.

She has had a troubled year, with her relationship with N'Sync star Justin Timberlake ending and her parents separating.

Her debut movie performance in Crossroads was slated by film critics, and a restaurant she opened in New York suffered a setback after two diners claimed they had suffered food poisoning there.

She has since distanced herself from the venue, called Nyla.

Ms Spears has recently been in Italy staying with fashion mogul Donatella Versace.

Earlier this year her spokespeople denied claims she was planning to take a two-year break from music.

See also:

29 Nov 02 | Showbiz
02 Oct 02 | Music
26 Sep 02 | Music
08 Aug 02 | Music
21 Jun 02 | Showbiz
18 Jun 02 | Showbiz
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