Every time I turn on the TV news it seems there is someone from Toshiba apologizing. At least the last one was for something normal — posting massive losses, a great improvement over their 2015 mea culpa for years of dodgy accounting.

When that scandal broke, Western journalists plied me for pithy quotes about what it meant for Japanese corporate governance, but “Nothing” was the only thing that came to mind. If they had asked "Why do corporate scandals happen?" I could have at least answered with the joke about why dogs lick themselves: "Because they can."

Despite generating pleasingly iconic apologies with lots of ritualistic bowing, I doubt Japanese corporate scandals themselves are particularly "cultural." German corporate governance wasn't a hot topic when Volkswagen got busted for fiddling emissions tests. Corporate fraud seems to happen in different places for different, highly contextual reasons. The real challenge is to understand that context.