*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Apologies and culture

Apologies are not the same in Japan.  I don't mean the gestures.
That shit's just theatre.  Look at the choreography!

Let me ask you, has your Japanese wife/husband/lover ever given you a profound and vulnerable apology?

I am not interested in the thousand 'gomen', 'shitsurei', 'ojyamashimasu' et al. you hear in a day.  Those are conventions.  What I mean is have you had an apology, in any language, where the Japanese person said,
That was my fault.  I take responsibility for it.  There was no excuse.  Here is how I will address it.  I understand if you will not forgive me.*
Everybody screws up through their own selfishness, sometimes.  Everyone should have had to make the speech above from time to time, unless you are a psychopath or a narcissist.  This is my wife's weakness: she will not admit error (it is the only thing that drives me nuts - that and the usual Japanese generating of clutter).  Come to think of it, I think this is a cultural problem.  Japanese do 'confession', more rarely do 'satisfaction', but most certainly do not do 'contrition'.**

*The vanity of the 'Westerner' is that they presume confession is followed by forgiveness, but forgiveness is a blessing you cannot demand: to presume is no attrition.
**Sorry but the RC church does get penance right, except for 'absolution': there is no god, and even if there were it is contemptible to divest yourself of what you have done.


  1. Right on the money, as always. Please write a book on Japanese culture aka the shittiest "culture" on this planet.

    1. Oh... Thank you but I am not sure I can be the judge of what's shittiest. I can think of a lot that is shitty in my 'home', Canada, too. If there is a "shittiest 'culture'" I am fairly certain it's one that practices female circumcision - mutilating daughters is a pretty strong sign a culture is irredeemable.

  2. It's got to be a 3 part process, doesn't it. Apologise, take responsiblity, take action to fix things things. But it guess it's hard when you aren't lead by example. At least here pollies have to make a show of retifying their mistakes. Sometimes.

  3. Almost as if when the jump is made to truly guilty feelings, it's Chuocide time... All or 中途半端 (chuutohanpa), I guess.

  4. God, this all sounds so familiar. I think, and this may or may not be reassuring for you, my wife and I have *had* to get far better at this since the birth of Number Two: my wife at admitting faults, and as per your first footnote, myself at realising an apology isn't a magic wand that instantly fixes everything, no matter how sincere.

    As for the clutter, fuck me yes. I could just about deal when we were in a flat, but now we're in a house I just can't comprehend it. Fitting everything we owned in three rooms was fine when we only had three rooms, but now it's bordering on OCD. It's not like we need to let the extra space lie fallow or anything.

    Joking aside, and at the risk of turning this into my own therapy session, it's something I'm a little concerned about for when she finishes maternity leave. At the moment it's a very traditional division of labour, but obviously that'll have to change. She's worried that I won't help enough around the house when she goes back to work (a concern I can understand her having, if I'm being completely honest). I don't want to just 'help' though, but that'll mean organising the house so that it works for all of us, and her giving up a bit of control. At the moment it's very much set up to suit her wants and needs, which is as it should be, but it can't stay that way if we're all going to keep our sanity.

    Sorry. I'm sure there are rules about comments being longer than the original post...

  5. Me: (looking at the girl I'm with curiously)
    "What did the girl who is stocking the shelves saying?"

    Girl: "She said welcome"

    (I said nothing more but noted the absolute rudeness built into the superficial welcome to a person you didn't even look at while speaking with a tone a person getting kidney stones removed might utter....how about shutting the fuck up and just stock that fucking shelf and spare me the total...total bullshit?)

    I ...everytime I walk into any shop and the chime sets off a wave of bullshit tatemae welcomes I get sick a little...oh I feel angru just typing this...Thanks bro ;)

  6. I find that more and more apologies are not so much genuine as more of a programmed response. In high school I was quick to apologize and it became quite evident that it was an auto response that I often did not mean. Damn impulsive teens!

    Having matured out of that bad habit, I have noticed that many adults will be quick to apologize to squash the problem. Not necessarily to make amends and put forth effort to change habits or for forgiveness.