Friday, January 15, 2016

The curious apologies of Japan

An apology in Japan is a curious affair. A thirty-one year old single, female, TV presenter begins a relationship with a singer she didn't know was married and has to hold a tearful press conference to apologise for her behaviour. He, himself was nowhere to be seen (possibly hiding from a rather annoyed wife?) but he would appear to be the party whom could be seen to be some what in the wrong. And yes, it is possible to be secretly married in Japan, you just sign on the dotted line at the local government office but an apology doesn't seem in any sense merited here, but is the custom.

In another instance a member of the all girl supergroup AKB48 went as far as shaving her head in contrition for having a boyfriend in 2013 and, again, tearfully apologised in a viral YouTube video. She was single and so was he but in this case it's more to do with economics than culture. Her contract stipulated no boyfriends if she wants to be part of the band, a clause to maintain the image of squeaky clean innocence. And she probably still did want to be a member of the super successful troup so no option but to go completely over the top.

And then there's a friend of mine, detained, in his own words, for shouting at a taxi driver one evening after a few beers. Pleading innocence that he'd done no wrong he was held by the local constabulary for three days before his release. The police were apparently very reasonable and asked why he hadn't just apologised in the first place, saving himself the incarceration. Still proclaiming his innocence of any transgression of reasonable laws, the officers showed him the in-car video. He had to admit that drunkenly jumping up and down on the hood of the taxi until the police pulled him off probably did merit an apology after all. Sometimes it's a good idea.

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