In Japan, apologies are an integral part of life, so much so that there seems to be an art to them. In January, several apologies captured the public’s attention.

The first notable apology came from 日本航空 (nihon kōkū, Japan Airlines). A fatal plane collision on Jan. 2 shocked people not only in Japan but also around the world. The next day, we saw 謝罪する日本航空の幹部 (shazai suru nihon kōkū no kanbu, Japan Airlines executives give an apology), even though the cause of the accident was still unknown.

This column explored various apologetic expressions in June last year, with Yuko Tamura reviewing everything from すみません (sumimasen, I’m sorry/ excuse me) to 正式な謝罪 (seishikina shazai, formal apologies). Also, Rochelle Kopp looked at corporate Japan’s culture of 反省 (hansei, reflection) when it comes to apologizing properly in the office. With these in mind, let’s look at recent examples of both successful and unsuccessful public apologies.