Apologizing in Japan: Sorry seems to be the hardest word

The way in which an individual or company responds to a crisis is critical to the ultimate impact such incidents have on business


Staff Writer

Dressed in a light-gray suit with her hair pulled back tightly into a bun, McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) Chief Executive Officer Sarah Casanova walked stiffly into a news conference on Feb. 5 and addressed a throng of reporters.

“I would like to sincerely apologize, once again, for all of the great anxiety and concern that the recent reports of food-related foreign objects have caused our customers,” Casanova said, before joining her Japanese colleagues in a deep five-second bow.

The prostration, however, did little to settle the ire of increasingly suspicious customers across the country.

The news conference had been called almost a month after McDonald’s Japan first revealed that small pieces of vinyl had been discovered in two servings of chicken nuggets at outlets in Aomori Prefecture and Tokyo. Facing reporters on Jan. 7, the fast-food giant’s Japan affiliate also revealed that a human tooth had been found in an order of french fries in Osaka last summer. It also confirmed that a piece of plastic from a broken ice-cream machine was found on Dec. 19 in a sundae served at an outlet in Fukushima Prefecture.

Casanova didn’t appear at this news conference, however, because she was overseas at the time.

The fast-food chain has been under fire since last July, when a Chinese supplier was found to have been using chicken meat that was past its expiration date.

By the time Casanova made her belated appearance at the Feb. 5 news conference, her apology looked token at best.

Toshiro Era, president of public relations consulting firm Arex Corp., says Casanova’s apology at the earnings announcement “made the company appear extremely passive.”

“It’s one of those situations where she should have displayed strong leadership,” Era says. “People have been keeping their eyes on McDonald’s crisis management since last July and (the foreign objects found in their food) is another issue directly linked to food safety.”

Swift admission

Companies are vulnerable to an infinite range of unforeseen crises, from accidents in the workplace and defective products to political scandals and money laundering. The way in which a company responds to a crisis is key to the ultimate impact such incidents have on business.

Corporate culture on contrition in Japan differs from that of the West, which tends to view an apology as an admission of guilt that potentially opens the guilty party up to civil lawsuits. Domestic firms place great emphasis on public apologies and it’s not unusual to see an individual utter the words “Taihen moshiwake gozaimasendeshita” (“We are deeply sorry”) before bowing deeply for about three to five seconds as dozens of cameras flash incessantly at a news conference.

It’s essential to make this public apology as quickly as possible, says Takayuki Asami, a lawyer who specializes in crisis management.

“The apology that is made when the crisis erupts is critical,” Asami says. “The company must show it is sorry for what has happened and is ready to provide whatever additional information may be necessary without hiding anything. Perhaps it is a Japanese thing, but making an apology is like a samurai dressing in white (before committing ritual suicide by disembowelment). It symbolizes coming clean and hiding nothing.”

Yet, despite myriad examples of past failures, companies still struggle in times of crises. Take Benesse Corp., for example. The correspondence education firm suffered the nation’s biggest data theft in history in June 2014 after a computer subcontractor leaked family members’ birth dates, addresses and telephone numbers to third parties.

The company launched an investigation into the leak at the end of June after customers started to complain they had received unsolicited advertising from a competitor. By June 30, the company had alerted the police. Instead of informing existing customers, however, Benesse waited until July 9 before the leak was made public at a news conference.

The company’s executives, headed by Chairman Eiko Harada, apologized and bowed before reporters as usual but the tardy response triggered resentment from the public.

At the news conference, Harada spoke as if Benesse was a victim, refusing to resign over the leak and even going so far as to say that customers would not be offered financial compensation because the data was “not sensitive information like credit card numbers” and so on. He later retracted this comment, and offered Benesse enraged customers the choice of a ¥500 gift certificate or a donation worth ¥500 that would be put toward the company’s newly established fund for children.

In fact, Harada’s “victimized” stance was so blatant that when a reporter asked him whether he thought Benesse was “the offender or the victim.” His response — “As of right now, we are the offender” — also drew criticism for implying that Benesse could also be a victim at some point in the future.

As a result, a number of disgruntled customers decided to file a class-action lawsuit against Benesse. As of mid-February, about 2,000 people have joined the suit against the company for damages.

“There are three key points in managing a crisis: responding quickly, taking a proactive approach to information disclosure and clearly informing the public about the problem at hand and the position of the company, what the company is sorry about and whether its an offender or a victim,” Era says. “Benesse took too long to take action once news had been leaked. What’s more, the public believed Benesse was trying to shirk its responsibilities because of the noted gap in perception, judging from the official statements.”

A number of other high-profile public apologies have been made in the past 12 months. In February 2014, composer Mamoru Samuragochi, who falsely claimed to be deaf, issued an apology for lying about his use of a ghostwriter to write scores that included “Hiroshima” and “Sonatina for Violin,” which figure skater Daisuke Takahashi used for his performance at the Sochi Olympics. At a news conference in March, he apologized again about the deceit and also for not being honest about his hearing ability. Later the same month, the government-backed Riken research institute delivered an apology over Haruko Obokata’s falsified papers on pluripotent stem cells.

In June, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Akihiro Suzuki apologized for shouting a sexist remark at a female opposition member during a plenary session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Topping it all off, former Hyogo Prefecture lawmaker Ryutaro Nonomura became an Internet phenomenon in July after crying like a toddler as he tried to explain his profligate use of public funds.

But none of the above acts of contrition were quite as damning as the apologies issued by the Asahi Shimbun last year.

In August, the newspaper retracted all stories, going back decades, on the “comfort women” issue that quoted Seiji Yoshida, a Japanese man who claimed he kidnapped about 200 Korean women and forced them to work at wartime military brothels. The newspaper said it first published testimony from Yoshida in 1982 and referenced him in at least 16 articles through the 1990s. In its apology, however, the Asahi said his stories couldn’t be confirmed. Criticism of the paper intensified after a weekly magazine then claimed Asahi had refused to run a column by Akira Ikegami, a journalist who had criticized the paper’s handling of the erroneous comfort women reports. In September, the newspaper was on the defensive again after it issued an apology concerning an erroneous article that alleged workers fled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant during the meltdown crisis in March 2011.

While Asahi President Tadakazu Kimura faced the music in front of reporters over both issues, several of the newspaper’s own staff writers posted their “personal views” on the scandals via Twitter, including criticism that was directed at management.

In principle, media organizations grant their reporters greater freedom to carry out their duties without censorship. Understanding that such entities may work differently from other companies, Asami questioned the lack of control Asahi had over its staff during the crisis.

“Asahi had zero crisis management,” Asami says. “It might be a news organization but Asahi let its employees comment freely on the situation, something that would never be tolerated in a normal company. Reporters are not freelance writers, they are company employees. In this situation, the company should have laid down some regulations.”

Crises, by definition, will arise no matter how hard companies try to prevent them. Successfully managing a crisis requires an understanding of how to handle a crisis: Companies should make a rapid and adequate response to the crisis, and attempt to minimize the negative impact. It’s also important to maintain clear lines of communication in the event of crisis to ensure it is resolved.

Marketing firm Japanet Takata Co.’s success in dealing with a data leak in 2004 provides a great example of crisis management in Japan. A former employee stole personal data on 510,000 customers, forcing Japanet Takata President Akira Takata to halt sales immediately and keep them on ice for more than one month. Although he did not offer victims of the breach any financial compensation, his leadership during the crisis was exemplary.

By comparison, Snow Brand Milk Products Co. provided a poor example of crisis management in 2000, when it struggled to deal with the fallout after 14,000 people got sick from old milk that was contaminated with bacteria. The first food poisoning complaint was filed in Osaka on June 27 but it took Snow Brand another two days to start recalling the contaminated milk products and make the scandal public.

Snow Brand President Tetsuro Ishikawa was ridiculed after being filmed trying to run away from reporters and barking, “I haven’t slept at all!” Ishikawa announced his resignation on July 6, 2000. Snow Brand sales, however, plummeted and the company was forced to undergo major restructuring.

“The Snow Brand incident had a major impact on how companies deal with information disclosure,” Asami says. “Since 2000, companies have learned that they will be attacked by the media for trying to hide facts if they don’t disclose the information in the beginning themselves.”

Growing awareness

When a crisis arises, companies often find themselves facing social reporters who are a different kettle of fish to the staid business types that usually attend their news conferences. For one thing, such reporters tend to ask the hard questions.

David Wagner, an expert in media training and crisis management, says he helps companies to prepare for emergencies by conducting exercises in which he takes on the role of a journalist who attacks senior management or the public relations team with hard-hitting questions.

“Once a problem is in the media, it is a crisis and the reason why it’s a crisis is because you can’t control what the media does … particularly, when it goes to social media, where anyone can become a journalist,” Wagner says during an interview via Skype. “That’s the life we now live in, and that’s the problem for most organizations.”

Wagner, president of David Wagner & Co., has worked with more than 450 companies around the world, including organizations in Japan, China and the U.S.

He lived in Japan for more than 25 years, and although he is currently based in Denver, Colorado, he flies to Japan almost once a month to help train companies.

Wagner says he offered to help the Japanese government during the aftermath of the triple meltdowns in 2011. The government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan at that time, was criticized by global news outlets for its handling of the crisis and the lack of information that was disclosed to the press. Without revealing whom he was working with, Wagner explains he offered to help behind the scenes.

“I didn’t charge any money because I wanted to help Japan — and, believe me, they needed it,” Wagner says. “I made sure that when they (government officials) engaged with the media, their messages were clear and persuasive in nature. That was a very intense crisis … and the issue of what to release in terms of information and what not to release for various reasons, as well as the believability of the spokesperson, became critical.”

Wagner notes that the need for crisis management training has been growing rapidly in Japan over the past 10 to 15 years. And with the spread of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, companies these days face a more complex situation than they have ever experienced.

“The need for crisis management is exploding partly because the awareness of Japanese organizations is increasing as to the need,” Wagner says, adding that corporations need to be aware of the multi-lingual aspect of social media. “It is a matter of getting an accurate, cross-cultural take on what messages will be delivered and how they will be interpreted.”

McDonald’s Casanova at least tried to play her cards right, despite the fact that it took her almost a month to face the public.

As a result, however, McDonald’s is now in the midst of a severe financial slump, reporting its first full-year loss in 11 years.

The fast-food chain is being attacked for foreign objects found in its products, something that experts say is almost impossible to prevent. However, confidence in McDonald’s has dropped since the expired chicken meat incident last July when, again, Casanova delayed making an apology until appearing at the company’s earnings announcement and suggesting that McDonald’s was a victim because the scandal was caused by the “willful deception of a few employees.” She did not bow on this occasion.

Six months later, she tried a different tactic of changing her hairstyle and clothing, and bowing prominently before the press corp. Arex’s Era believes it was obviously an appearance specifically targeted at a domestic audience.

“To be honest, I felt that something was not quite right,” Era says. “I got the impression that it was choreographed. Impression, appearance and attitude is important at a news conference that is held to deliver an apology but, more than that, the most important thing is for a leader to explain what went wrong, what the company is sorry about and the preventative measures it plans to take.”

Which company will be the next to have its crisis-management skills put to the test by an unforeseen emergency? The odds are high that it won’t be long before we find out.

Timeline of mismanagement


July 20, 2014: A Chinese supplier is found to have been using chicken meat that is past its expiration date.

Aug. 26, 2014: A human tooth is found in french fries at a McDonald’s outlet in Osaka.

Dec. 19, 2014: A 5-year-old child is injured by a piece of plastic found in a sundae served at an outlet in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. The foreign object is believed to have come from a broken ice-cream machine.

Dec. 31, 2014: A piece of blue vinyl is found in a chicken nugget at an outlet in Tokyo.

Jan. 3, 2015: A similar piece of vinyl is found in a chicken nugget in Aomori Prefecture.

Jan. 7, 2015: Senior Vice Presidents Takehiko Aoki and Hidehito Hishinuma apologize for the incident at a news conference.

Asahi Shimbun

May 20, 2014: The newspaper publishes an article claiming that 90 percent of workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant defied an order from the plant’s late boss, Masao Yoshida, and fled to the No. 2 facility during the meltdown crisis in March 2011.

Aug. 5, 2014: The Asahi Shimbun retracts stories from the 1980s and ’90s on the “comfort women” issue that quote Seiji Yoshida, a Japanese man who claimed he kidnapped about 200 Korean women and forced them to work at military brothels.

Sept. 11, 2014: Asahi Shimbun President Tadakazu Kimura retracts the article on Yoshida’s testimony and issues an apology for both incidents in print and online.


June 26, 2014: Benesse starts to receive complaints from customers about being sent direct mailings at contacts registered only with the correspondence education firm.

July 9, 2014: Benesse admits that the names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and genders of 7.6 million customers had been leaked. Benesse CEO Eiko Harada says no financial compensation will be paid.

July 17, 2014: Harada agrees to pay ¥2 billion in compensation in an attempt to restore Benesse’s reputation.

Sept. 10, 2014: Benesse reveals that at least 28.95 million customers have been affected by the leak.

Snow Brand

Late June 2000: More than 14,000 people are sickened by staph bacteria in low-fat milk produced by Snow Brand Milk Products Co.

June 29, 2000: Snow Brand starts recalling milk products.

July 4, 2000: Snow Brand President Tetsuro Ishikawa issues an apology for the outbreak, but is later ridiculed after being filmed trying to run away from reporters and saying, “I haven’t slept at all!”

July 6, 2000: Snow Brand President Tetsuro Ishikawa announces his resignation.


  • tisho

    Apologizing in Japan is the easiest thing to do, meaning it is the most difficult.

  • Jonathan Fields

    Apologizing is difficult for Japanese people. They’ll apologize profusely for something minor like spilling a drink, but they get really defensive and almost hateful when questioned about a major offense. There’s some interesting research being conducted right now about deflecting responsibility and making excuses in Japanese culture.

    • Gordon Graham

      What’s your culture, Jonathan? Spreading garbage blanket statements like spilt drinks to be licked up and spit out by equally eager garbage spreaders?

      • Jonathan Fields

        Why does my culture matter? When will you people realize that criticizing Japan is not a proclamation of superiority? I don’t think American or British culture are immune to criticism either.

        If you know anything about Japanese culture, and particularly business culture, you know that deflecting responsibility is a big part of it.

      • Gordon Graham

        The point you’re making about deflecting criticism can be made the world over. You are clearly taking glee in mocking the Japanese with petty statements like “they apologize profusely over something minor like spilling a drink, but they get really defensive or even hateful when questioned about a major offense.” You don’t even realize how racist your blanket slight is which makes your disgust all the more laughable. To which “they” do you refer? You certainly can’t be referring to the countless number of Japanese who take responsibility very seriously. I suppose to you all blacks are lazy, too. Are there any interesting studies about that?

      • Jonathan Fields

        Ad hominem, argument from motive, accident, false equivalence, special pleading… You’re a master of fallacies, my friend.

        Drop that R bomb and the discussion is over.

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        I’ll drop it. Speaking as a Japanese, it sounds like racism to me.

      • Eagle

        Forgive me, just wanna learn, what exactly sounded racist to you?

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        Treating the Japanese as a whole. Simple test. Plug in Jews or blacks or some other ethnic, national, or religious group. “….. is difficult for Jews.” “Blacks will X but they won’t Y.” If a broad sweep generalization would get you in trouble if you made it about Jews, blacks, Irish, Muslims, or whatever, it is probably racist.

      • Eagle

        Well, thanks for your reply. With due respect, I totally disagree, although politically correct I rather take it as a
        restriction of free speech and it resents me. JF only expressed his opinion and practically said the same thing that the writer of this article.

        Some sentence from the article:

        “Corporate culture on contrition in Japan differs from that of the West, which tends to view an apology as an admission………”

        “Perhaps it is a Japanese thing, but making an apology is like a samurai dressing in white…”

        From another JT article:

        ” Doi says it’s natural for Japanese people to be concerned about what happens to one of their own, but that’s all the media ever addresses in such situations..”

        “As Doi sees it, the Japanese public is “insensitive” to the rest of the world,”

        How many more of this kind do you want?

        Is JT is racist too? Japanese speaking. They can? Change the name from Doi to a foreign name and Voila, it’s racist. No. JT is not racist. Neither is JF.

      • Japanese Bull Fighter

        Black Americans can use the N word and not be called racist. If a white uses the N word, they are said to be racist. I’ve heard Jews use the K and Y words. I would not. Japanese are entitled to make dumb generalizations about themselves. As for the JT, I would say that its articles often have a racist tinge although not universally. The idea that there is a Western management culture or even a Western culture is ludicrous. I’m in Britain at the moment. Britain is very different from the US although both are Western. Italy is very different from Norway although both are Western. Sono was also engaging in free speech. The guys who chant anti-Korean slogans are engaging in free speech. Some free speech is racist; some is not.

      • Eagle

        That’s empty arguing playing with words. Many of the Black Americans are awfully racist such many other people from any ethnic or religious groups including Jews or whatever to their own benefit and to the expense of other ethnic groups. The ” Űbermensch” was pure racism even if it came from the Germans, they about themselves, such as the Jewish racism that they consider themselves special as an ethnic group chosen by God.
        Now, that is it and it is bad and racist even if they say about themselves.

        Racism is racism whoever does it regardless of what ethnic group they belong to. It’s not simply the question of words they are using. Not that simple. It’s what they say, the content of what they say. What they use it for. They can speak in a politically correct way, absolutely professional that no one can animadvert, yet racial. Therefore, if someone speaks we gonna disregard who is speaking and analyze the content of their words, because if they speak in a wrong way, say disagreeable or racist things then even his own ethnic group can be offended by their very own members and they can protest.
        JF only expressed himself and gave his opinion in a superficial and very unprofessional way, but it doesn’t make his comment racial. He is not a professional journalist just a poster.

      • Gordon Graham

        Could you elucidate us on the intent of JF’s comment if not to insult? It’s clear he’s taking a shot at the Japanese as a whole. Let’s not play dumb on that.

      • Eagle

        Absolutely sincerely, it doesn’t seem racist to me. Also, I admit there is no chart to filter every opinion and there might be considerable personal disagreement on where racist rants are beginning. I said I didn’t agree with him in everything, such as deflecting responsibility is Japanese culture, it happens all over the world, but he didn’t say that it is specific or only Japanese do it. But the way they do it is obviously Japanese. What else could it be? They are Japanese and we call many great things that Japanese do Japanese and Japanese culture, too. Is that O.K. in that case?
        Emphasizing Japan in his post is not racist as we discussing this issue in Japan in this case. Specifically speaking about other countries we can define this issue as the question in Britain, Norway etc. as you mentioned. But now we are speaking about “Apologizing in Japan” as the title says.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        Shhhhh, Eagle, no common sense is allowed while addressing those who miss the point completely ;)

        Great responses, by the way.

      • Eagle


      • Gordon Graham

        My original response and subsequent comments were not referring to the article but to Jonathan Field’s insult. You might want to give your hand a rest from patting yourself on the back and give yourself a moment to see if you can’t fathom the intent of such a remark.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        Aww somebody’s mad, maybe you should ask mama for a warm bottle. Also, patting myself on the back? Grasping at straws to try to create another argument? You must be one of those types that *thrive* in the atmosphere of vindictiveness, and that wouldn’t be an ad hominem, but an observation. Good night, baby boy.

      • Gordon Graham

        “patting yourself on the back” i.e. I’m clever, I get the point. I guess I had to spell that one out for you after all . I’ll try to be more explicit next time so you can keep up.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        I.E. you’re too stupid to catch my sarcasm towards your desperate comment. Keep swinging, kid, maybe you can fool *someone* into thinking you’re an intellectual superior to all of us. lulz

        Now stop raping my inbox with your utter stupidity, desperation, need for validation, and attention-seeking.

      • Gordon Graham

        How could I possibly compete intellectually with “even my husband is arrogant…therefore The Japanese are”?

      • Children Of Nephilim

        Ah, so you can’t read either. Here, let me “hand feed” you everything word-by-word:

        “and this is only one *recent* example out of many that I’ve experienced here.” Keywords: Only one example.

        You’re right, you can’t compete intellectually, so I suggest you put your d##k back in your pants and quit “comparing size” since you seem to have come to this conversation intellectually unarmed. ;)

        I have work tomorrow, so I’ll continue trolling you at a later time. Good night, kid.

      • Gordon Graham

        I suppose you have no examples to the contrary.

      • Just me

        wow man, weeaboo much? could you please take a second to unwrap your lips from Japanese wang to come up for air, maybe think a little before you write? all your replies shows you to be a dejected basement dweller of the lowest common denominator. you’re too busy throwing out garbles replies to actually read and understand what others are saying. weeaboo power, right bro?

      • Eagle

        um, …………….. ah. well, …. okay.

      • Eagle

        In Japan it is snowing.

      • Eagle

        Is your husband arrogant? Answer me!

      • Just me

        F—-t alert!

      • kension86

        > “The idea that there is a Western management culture or even a Western culture is ludicrous. ”

        Excuse me… but do you even know what the Definition of “Western Culture” is ?

        Your claim make as much sense as saying “there’s no such thing as Western Cuisine because they are different !”.

      • Jonathan Fields

        So, to see if a statement is racist, you should plug in historically oppressed groups and see if it becomes offensive? That’s a pretty silly test. Let’s try it with some other things:

        Catholics don’t value education highly enough.
        Dogs are friendly.
        Americans are ignorant.
        Finnish people like salty licorice.
        Pencils are yellow.

        See why your argument doesn’t work now? Japanese is not a race. I think British people are arrogant and a little too flippant about their country’s imperialist exploits. Does that make me racist against British people?

        The problem with you and Gordan Graham’s line of thinking is that is actually promotes the classification of people by their physical appearance. Japan is a mostly racially homogenous nation, but that has nothing to do with the (admittedly aggressive) comment I made. I’m sure this isn’t what you meant, but you basically said that ‘Japanese’ is a race (or that ‘black’ is a culture). That’s more than a little problematic.

      • Gordon Graham

        Try Jamaicans are lazy, Jews are conniving, Chinese are liars in a North American publication and see if it doesn’t get bombarded with accusations of racism. The currency of the term has a farther reach than you’re willing to own up to because you realise you have to own it.

      • Sotairyu

        “British people are arrogant and too flippant about their country’s imperialist exploits. Does that make me racist against British people?”
        It doesn’t make you a racist, but it does make you sound like a nauseating whinger. Too bad, as I agree with much of what you’ve posted on this thread.

      • Gordon Graham

        You can throw all the Latin at it you want. It won’t elevate your insult to argument. Ad hominem is all that splenetic comment deserves.

      • Jonathan Fields

        In your mind, criticising a relatively homogenous group of people living in one country with one language and a fairly standardized culture is the same as stereotyping people based on skin color alone? You do understand the implications of that terrible line of thinking, don’t you?

      • Gordon Graham

        Implying that a particular negative trait is specific to one culture alone when it is evident throughout the world is a blatant insult and smacks of racism. What, pray tell, was the intent of your comment if not to insult?

      • Jonathan Fields

        Japanese is not a race, and you’re making yourself look bad by implying that being Japanese and appearing a certain way are intrinsically linked.

      • Gordon Graham

        The Japanese are a people. You’re playing cute with semantics to avoid owning up to your insult. I suppose an apology is out of the question.

      • Jonathan Fields

        No. You’re conflating culture, nationality, and race. It’s funny, because that’s another problem in Japan. In fact, their immigration policy is heavily based on the idea that having Japanese blood makes you culturally Japanese.

        America and Finland have big problems with immigration and racism. (I included this statement because Gordon thinks that criticizing a country without mentioning that the problem may exist elsewhere means you are claiming moral and racial superiority).

      • Gordon Graham

        “their immigration policy is heavily based on the idea that having Japanese blood makes you culturally Japanese”. Where do you come up with this garbage? You do realise there are naturalised Japanese citizens don’t you? You do realise that there are caucasian and black Japanese don’t you? You are the one making negative blanket statements about “the Japanese”. Hey if you were to criticise a specific policy or incident, I’d take no issue with that, but you’ve just taken the opportunity to hurl a cheap insult and that’s it. Now you’re being disingenuous in not owning up to it.

      • Eagle

        ah no……. answer me……..okay

      • Eagle

        answer me umm ….$$$$$$$ 4

      • Jonathan Fields

        Wrong yet again, Gordan.

        People with Japanese ancestry (up to the 3rd and sometimes 4th generation) can easily get a visa with no work restrictions that is unavailable to other people. The reason this policy was implemented–and this is widely documented–is because it was believed that they would more easily integrate into Japanese society.

        As we can see from all the issues facing Japanese Brazilians and Peruvians, there were plenty of problems. In fact, the Japanese government offered foreigners of Japanese ancestry a deal shortly after the economic downturn of 2009 where they could get money if they went back to their home country and promised never to return again under a Japanese ancestry visa.

        There’s a specific policy and an incident.

        Of course there are white and black Japanese, and I consider them to be Japanese, but the government does not. They are not citizens unless they are naturalized. Japan is a jus sanguinis country. You cannot become Japanese simply by being born there.

        There’s a specific policy.

        I don’t know why you’re so dead set on defending Japan, nor do I know why you feel so insulted when I criticize Japan, but it’s honestly pretty weird.

      • Gordon Graham

        Please refer to Immigration Bureau of Japan site for criteria on naturalisation.

      • Gordon Graham

        Well, since you brought it up. I feel insulted because my kids are Japanese my family is Japanese, I’ve spent most of my adult life here (28 years) living and working among Japanese and the character trait that you so flippantly want to assign to the Japanese en masse doesn’t jibe with most of the hard working, honest, responsible people I know. Now if you want to cherry-pick for the purpose of glib character assassination to get a pat on the back for such an insult by those who would get behind such a shallow view then at least have the fortitude to own up to your intent. I could cite Enron, Haliburton, Wall Street, Love Canal, Brian Williams (NBC anchorman), Lance Armstrong, Richard Nixon, as exemplary of American Business practices or the “American” character respectively, but these examples don’t jibe with the honest forthright Americans I know and respect.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        I was just about to call an ad hominem on his attack, lol. You have good analytical skills. We need more critical thinkers in this world.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        This article isn’t a discussion about the world, it’s a discussion about what goes on in Japan. Please take your issues to a more appropriate article.

      • Eagle

        Graham is not ad hominem he is just a skilled troll. He is always doing it and has only one purpose, to lead attention away from the main issue and drive the discussion to an absolutely irrelevant point.

      • Gordon Graham

        The implication is that deflecting criticism, not taking responsibility or being disingenuous is a particular Japanese trait when it’s something that happens the world over.

      • Children Of Nephilim

        What does his culture have to do with it? There’s truth in what he said. My boss didn’t pay me the proper amount and became defensive, arrogant, deflective, and side-stepping on the issue when I brought it up, and this is only one *recent* example out of many that I’ve experienced here, even my husband’s like this. As far as I can see, his observation has truth in it.

      • Gordon Graham

        I had the same experience with a Jewish boss in Canada. Shall I make the claim that the Jews are arrogant, deflective, irresponsible people who aren’t to be trusted? I’m sorry, but the reason I’m so defensive is most of the Japanese people I know are forthright people who take their responsibilities seriously.

      • Eagle

        “I’m sorry, but the reason I’m so defensive”
        You are not defensive, you are offensive and patronizing.

      • Gordon Graham

        Well, I must be American then because we all know Americans are offensive and patronizing.

    • Eagle

      Hi, at this moment you have 6 upvotes , one of them from Jonathan Fields.
      Good to see you agree with yourself. :)) Me too, to some extent but not exactly the way you put it.

    • I would like to agree with you. When it is about the fault of the whole nation, then sorry would be really the hardest word. Just think about WWII.

    • Rene

      Whether he is right or not, I don’t see any foundation in calling his opinion racist. The article is titled “Apologizing in Japan”, thus limiting the discussion to a certain geographical territory which is predominantly inhabited by Japanese people and their culture.

      His observation is merely staying on topic. Unless you call the original article racist too. But just remember, unless we limit any topic to a certain confinement, we are not capable of any debate or observation at all …

  • Eagle

    McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) Chief Executive Officer Sarah Casanova

    “I would like to sincerely apologize, once again, for all of the great anxiety and concern that the recent reports of food-related foreign objects have caused our customers,”

    This is not an apology, this is another insult to consumers. She was waiting with this to the last moment and only did it when their got financially troubled.
    It’s all fire-fighting to save what can be saved and get away from responsibility and further retribution.

    A real apology should be:

    A/ She should precisely and sincerely tell and explain what they did wrong so that at least we could know what they understand, what they admit and what they are willing to apologize for.

    B/ She should give a fair account and explanation how it happened, why they did it , how long they have been doing it, and why they were waiting with the changes until the inevitable exposure happened.

    C/ They should give trustworthy guaranties that it won’t happen again, allow authentic quality control from a third party, and compensate all the customers who suffered material or emotional harm or damage.

    That’s an apology, what she did is simple hypocrisy.
    Now, hit Youtube, type “McDonalds meat” in the search field and see those videos to learn what McDonalds sells. Get a vomit bag before, though.

    • Gordon Graham

      Sarah Casanova is not Japanese. Where was the apology from the US government from the debacle following Hurricane Katrina? If I remember correctly the government left citizens to die because it had no contingency plan other than to tell people to evacuate. Absolutely shameful. What about the Chinese government? Did they apologise and take responsibility for their officials turning a blind eye to building regulations not being met while grafting their pockets and allowing shoddy buildings to be made with substandard safety structures…buildings that subsequently came crushing down and killing hundreds of people. Like I said, the same claims being made about the Japanese can equally be made the world over…THE…WORLD…OVER

      • Jonathan Fields

        Sarah Casanova represents a Japanese company in Japan in Japanese. Her failure to properly apologize is part of the business culture there. My comment applies to her as well. You’re the only one in this debate who thinks Japanese is a race. I really think you’re not understanding the implications of your own argument.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sarah Casanova represents an American company in Japan. Her failure to apologise at all would be more in line with business culture in America. In fact, the author claims businesses in America are less inclined to take responsibility and apologise for fear of being sued. You should read the article again.

      • Jonathan Fields

        She’s a Canadian woman who has worked in Japan for over a decade and is the CEO of McDonald’s Japan… Her behavior clearly doesn’t represent American business culture (even if it happens to match up).

        You’re getting dangerously close to making racially based arguments yourself.

      • Gordon Graham

        “clearly”? In the sense that she apologised at all? I seemed to have missed Wall Street’s apology for financially raping America, so perhaps that’s what you mean.

      • Jonathan Fields

        I’d love to get that apology too, Gordon, but it has nothing to do with the discussion.

      • Gordon Graham

        Really? Well then let’s get back to the Japanese are disingenuous shall we

      • Jonathan Fields

        Now you’re reading to much into my initial comment. You just sound butthurt. Are you secretly a ネット右翼? You argue like one.

      • Eagle

        Live him alone, you are possibly talking with a chatbot an A.I.

      • Jonathan Fields

        Yeah, I’m done. I enjoyed your comments, though. You’re right, I didn’t really make my initial point in a very polite way. Thanks for keeping the level of discourse high.

      • Eagle

        Cheers, I enjoyed your comments too.

      • Eagle

        Really? Well then let’s get back to the Japanese are disingenuous shall we

  • Eagle

    O.K. everybody, my apologies for displaying it in a full message up here but I think we can stop feeding the troll, let he go soliloquizing. He had enough for today, he managed to mess up the whole discussion with his classical technique and my guessing is that Ms. Masami Ito will delete all the mess tomorrow morning when she enters the editorial.

    On the other hand it might as well be good to leave it as it is for a good study for honest posters to learn how a skillful and experienced troll can mess up and sidetrack the whole discussion if we reply. Good for studying purpose.

    • Gordon Graham

      ie…A cacophony of consensus is our aim.

  • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

    I’m sorry, but you get what you pay for,.