Why no Japologising?

Here’s an interesting article from Time entitled "Why Japan Is Still Not Sorry Enough", which started off in a predictable tone, but gets a lot better when it starts an interview with Thomas U. Berger, who has written a book looking at the post-war apologism or lack thereof to the neighbours. Here’s a few choice quotes:

Japan has apologized for waging aggressive war and oppressing its neighbors, but those apologies have fumbling and awkward, and often been undercut by revisionist statements from senior politicians. […]

But Japan has been far more repentant than is often credited. Prime ministers have repeatedly offered apologies for their country’s misdeeds. Japan has sponsored joint historical research with both South Korea and China. Most Japanese school textbooks deal with issues like the Nanjing massacre and the colonial oppression of Koreans in a fairly open manner.

The last sentence is of particular interest; as I mentioned in my last post, there is a common belief amongst English-speaking foreigners at least that Nanjing and colonialism is whitewashed at best.

Apologies tend to be given when there is a belief that those apologies will be accepted, at least in part, and that dialogue between the two sides will be advanced.  So unless there are strong reasons to do so, most leaders avoid it.

Indeed, South Korea is not interested in hearing anything but total capitulation, and I don’t think there would even be any improvement in Korean attitudes anyway.

With the Koreans, there has been an unwillingness to help the Japanese find ways of reconciling when the Japanese have tried to do so. This was most apparent with the Asian Women’s Fund, which the Korean government did not support and in fact subverted by establishing a separate, rival support system for the former comfort women.

Yup, it takes two to apologise as well as to tango.

Anyway, it’s well worth a read, although give the comments a miss unless you wish to indulge in a bit of :headdesk: .

Leave a comment ?


  1. @iago:

    Wouldn’t the US have jurisdiction here? Dave is in the US, and he posted this libel to a server in the US …

  2. @Steve:

    Shhh… you’re ruining the punchline!

  3. @Steve:
    That’s exactly what I was thinking. This looks more like a case for a US court.

  4. @iago:

    Alas, British libel laws are not the envy of the world, only of the very rich.

    Interestingly, the person who was responsible for landing the BBC in the crap over Lord McAlpine was journalist Iain Overton, last seen on Japan Probe defending his wife against criticism of her dreadful report on anorexia in Japan.

  5. @VK: Will Japan Probe stop at nothing to destroy its enemies?

  6. (In case anyone is interested in the Sally Bercow stuff, I found the following article fairly interesting: http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/libel-damages-and-lord-mcalpine-did-the-bbc-pay-too-much/ )

  7. I think it’s quite funny that although Eido, James, VK, Level3, etc all have similar viewpoints (just like many of the more prolific Debito posters), there is little similarity in writing style, yet anyone can quite easily see the same hand behind CJ, Rollingwagon, A Concerned Citizen, that guy on the Economist that I cannot be bothered to look up; and also a similarity between Jim Di Griz and Fight Back.

    BTW, to the best of my knowledge, there are no sockpuppets, and the most obvious person using random proxies is Anonymous, “Bob”, etc. :roll:

    And in other news, Mr Arudou links to Japologism. :lol: And is it just me who gets annoyed by him spelling out Shamintou instead of using SDP, Koumeitou instead of the Anglicised New Komeito, etc, etc?

  8. @Ken Y-N: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer still…

  9. http://www.debito.org/?p=10854#comment-378280

    Do us a favor: don’t come back.

  10. I’m not so annoyed by stuff like that. I write LDP, but would always say jimintou. I use Ishin, not JRP. Some of the English names make me cringe, too, particularly the “Tomorrow Party”, which sounds like a bad 1960s Sci-fi series.

    And perhaps linking is an olive branch. (Either that or he meant to copy the direct link to the manifestos but messed up.)

  11. @VK: I suspect the linking is the product of research by Google (in English). Probably didn’t make the connection…

  12. I was wondering where the party was! Finally realized I should check the comments here. I figured Debito’s meltdown was going to inspire a bit of commentary.

    Eido, if Google’s Japan office is like most companies, the HR department is tasked with avoiding unwanted publicity related to employees, one way or another. And especially in Japan, they usually don’t have the inclination to go to bat on an employee’s behalf. Google is being very publicly accused of manipulating search results to serve an agenda. Google may see you as the reason this very unwanted accusation has been brought to their doorstep (whether it’s your fault or not). Have no doubt, your job could be at risk. You need to take very decisive action, very quickly, to get Debito shut down.

  13. Eido,

    While David knows he could probable ignore any lawsuit judgement you got in Japan, what he couldn’t ignore is if a Japanese court gave you ownership of debito.org. Have your legal representatives see if you could get ownership of his domain (since the registrar would enforce a Japanese court order, he’d have no say about it) and watch how fast the whiplash happens.

  14. Hey, Eido … if you end up with ownership of debito.org, can we fill it with photos of Iris Miller?

  15. @Ken Y-N:

    Just in case anyone missed it, Jim Di Griz admits to using aliases.

  16. @Topaz, I disagree. A respectable company may get a complaint about a minor blogger or two, and it won’t even be mentioned to Eido-san. Big companies are used to getting petty complaints all the time by people that have nothing to do but complain… Someone complaining IN ENGLISH to a company in Japan that doesn’t have anything to do with their actual product gets the normal:


    As much as some people can fantasize about ‘getting someone fired’… Eido-san is not some minimum wage waiter that spit in Mr Arudo’s food, he’s someone that expressed his fair opinion about Mr Arudo’s Blog posts… Companies NOW, and especially gaishikei give a lot less of a shit than Mr Arudo would suggest.

    That is, about trivial spats on teh intaaawebs :grin:

  17. @Topaz:

    I’m interested in what you’re basing this off of (not in a cynical way, but in a curious way). Do you have experience in HR? Working in the offices of major corporations? I have neither, so it all comes off as speculation to me.

  18. Of course it’s pure speculation. Come on guys, work with me here! If Eido’s job is not threatened by this, then his grounds for taking action are extremely limited. You can’t sue for libel just because your feelings are hurt :-)

    But it does seem like common sense to me. At a minimum Google has to respond to public accusations of official tampering with search results, don’t they? This is, at a minimum, meiwaku, triggered by something related to am employee’s private life. I figure that Eido’s going to have to spend some time in the legal department’s office apogizing for the hassle, if nothing else.

  19. @Topaz:

    Somewhat disagree. Debito sued, and won, for libel that did not affect his job. It did, supposedly, affect his reputation. If he could sue and win based on “damage” to his “reputation” as a “human rights activist”, a reputation he did not/does not even have in Japan, and that was completely unrelated to his job at the time, Eido would seem to be certainly able sue for damage to his professional reputation as the claims made directly relate to his reputation within his chosen profession.

    Not to mention, hints and allegations of illegal activity.

    In short, you can sue to protect your reputation, even if you are not in danger of losing your job. You probably cannot claim “lost wages & income” or anything like that, but you can claim damages for emotional distress etc. Eido’s biggest problem is that Debito really has nothing of value that can be claimed:

    The website

    A library card for a school in Hawaii

    Royalty payments for an ebook that no-one will buy.

    10,000 copies of a “handbook to living in Japan”

    Perhaps a few Lonely Planet guides.

  20. And if anyone is looking for more concrete legal advice, an old friend of ours has a recommendation:

    I would go with H00fin’s advice on this since he is not only a lawyer (IIRC), but also has done some work on these internet bullies before. I do believe that H00fin is one of the most level-headed and honest people on the J-blogging scene.


    Although bear in mind, this is the legal eagle who in his own comment appears to provide additional non sequitur criminal allegations based on nothing I can see in the original text:

    My concern about the heavy anonymity there is that it also sounded like an American expat nonfiler who is dodging American taxes on the Google ads income (self-employed activity not enrolled in Japanese pension.)


    Caveat emptor…

  21. @Topaz:

    Er…Publishing falsehoods about someone with malicious intent pretty much covers the definition of defamation. (I just don’t see how some people can’t grasp that blogs, tweets and Facebook posts are not private little gossipy messages between friends.)

    Instead of asking Eido to suck it up (it’s really none of our business to tell Eido how he should feel about this), perhaps you should ask Arudou Debito to make a public, full and abject apology?

    We both know you’ll have a hard time succeeding there. That’s why you’ve come here to where the rational people are. But that just enables the kind of bad behaviour that’s plagued Arudou his entire “activist” career.

  22. @VK

    Oh my lord, did you misread me. I’m on your side here. I wouldn’t suck it up if I were Eido, for a second. Army of lawyers would already be in motion.

    I’m saying Eido seems to have a *much* stronger case than mere harm to his reputation. You need to prove damages in a libel case. The more damages, the better chance you have of succeeding.

    Debito has potentially libeled Google, Eido’s employer, and implicated Eido in it. That’s a much bigger problem than a pure attack on Eido.

  23. @Topaz:

    Oh, I see – sorry, I totally misread you! I didn’t read your post before that one. My apologies. :oops:


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