Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Regarding the Tuesday, May 31, 2016 story “Obama visit highlighted how apologies differ in U.S., Japan,” Japanese are big on regret and "sincerity." But regret is not an apology and sincerity is impossible to gauge. I regret many things, but that doesn't mean I am apologizing for them. I regret that climbers die on Mt. Everest. I regret that a seven year old boy was abandoned in a Hokkaido forest. I regret that The Beatles broke up. I regret that the oceans are awash with plastic waste.
Apology is something else consisting of at least three components. 1) You clearly and without obfuscation admit what you did. 2) You clearly and without obfuscation admit that it was wrong. 3) You clearly and without obfuscation promise not to do it again. Japanese government apologies for their heinous and criminal execution of the Pacific War consistently fail to satisfy these components which do not relate to the Japanese notion of "apology." This is why so many in the world, particularly in Asia, say that Japan has yet to apologize for the war while Japanese insist they have already apologized copiously. In addition, clarity does not seem to be a Japanese forte. The U.S. does not need to apologize for the A-bombings of Japanese cities. Japan itself is responsible for bringing the war to that point: Japan started the war in the Pacific; Japan waged it in a notoriously criminal and heinous fashion; Japan stubbornly refused to give it up long after its cause was lost. The proposition that a sea detonation would have demonstrated the weapons' power, swayed the Imperial government to surrender and make the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki unnecessary stupidly underestimates human psychology and mis-takes human behavior. Who are these people who periodically say this stupid thing? People will fight and die for what they believe in even if what they believe is demonstrably wrong. So there. Apologies for the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ought to come from the government of Japan, not from Washington, D.C.
But I could be wrong.
Published in The Japan Times on Sunday, June 5, 2016 as "Apologies by Japan always ring hollow."