I would like to write a few lines of appreciation to The Japan Times for keeping our interest keen and alive in observing the conduct of our fellow citizens, both good and bad. As the high priest of Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto) lamented last month, the Japanese should feel ashamed that 2007 has been symbolized by the notorious kanji for the word “nise” (fraud).

Those occupying high places in politics, bureaucracy and industry were busy cheating fellow citizens nationwide. When their frauds were exposed, their standard operating procedure was to stand in a row in front of media microphones and chant in unison: “We feel sorry for what we did, and take this opportunity to apologize and see what we can do to prevent the recurrence of similar happenings.”

These words in themselves were a sheer joke because similar happenings just persisted. The Japanese are humorous and lenient when it comes to wrongdoing, as summed up by the time-honored saying “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours when the time comes.” But we should all repent for having pushed Japan to such a level of depravity. It is not too late to mend our ways. Let us hope together that 2008 will turn out to be a fascinating year of moral recovery.

takeru toki