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In a recent exchange of opinions that I had with friends that was spurred by the latest developments in Japan-South Korea relations and a recent news report that an attempt by Emperor Showa’s to officially express in 1952 his remorse and regret over World War II was prevented by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, a Westerner observed that historically Japan has lacked critical self-reflection on its society.

He considered that even the concept of hansei (self-reflection) was about putting all responsibility for an error or incident on one’s self, without even considering and reviewing external factors. He thought that this feature of Japanese culture contributed in no small extent to Japan’s adamant reticence to admit any wrongdoing.

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