Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Apology

One of the virtues (and one of the burdens) of Japanese society is the extreme emphasis placed on loyalty. Loyalty to the country, to one’s ancestors, sometimes even above right and wrong. It is this loyalty that allows the Japanese prime minister to occasionally lay flowers on Prime Minister Tojo’s grave even though he was hanged as a war criminal. It is also this loyalty that prevents Japan from expressing remorse at its actions prior to and during WWII. Japan, as a country pays a heavy price for this and Japanese multinational companies pay this price as well.

TV set sales are down precipitously in Japan because of the aftermath of the Tsunami, the expiring of domestic energy tax credits for TV set replacement, the general slowdown in the economies of Japan and the rest of the world. The one bright spot in the market has been TV set sales in China. However, due to friction between Japan and China over Japan’s actions during a war that ended almost 65 years ago, that market is largely lost to Japanese TV set makers. No apology.

In the recent US presidential election, sitting President Barack Obama defeated his challenger Mitt Romney. One issue that was frequently brought up in the campaign was the president’s supposed “apology tour” shortly after assuming the office. Mr. Romney also titled his autobiography, “No Apology". Transcripts show that although the president mentioned that the US has not always behaved as it should, he never actually apologized for anything the US has done. Though it would certainly cost him politically, perhaps he should. The US has not always behaved as it should and conveying some humility and regret would be a good thing.

Mr. Obama’s reelection was greeted favorably around the world. Although the election was close here, polls taken oversees, of non-US people, showed virtually no support for Mr. Romney and the “no apologies” approach. Although there is some friction between the US and China, there will be no US-China trade war starting on inauguration day as Mr. Romney had promised.

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