Secrets, Sex, and SpectacleThe Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States

Secrets, Sex, and SpectacleThe Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States

Mark D. West

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226894089

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

A leader of a global superpower is betrayed by his mistress, who makes public the sordid details of their secret affair. His wife stands by as he denies the charges. Debates over definitions of moral leadership ensue. Sound familiar? If you guessed Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, try again. This incident involved former Japanese prime minister Sōsuke Uno and a geisha. This book organizes the seemingly random worlds of Japanese and American scandal—from corporate fraud to baseball cheaters, political corruption to celebrity sexcapades—to explore well-ingrained similarities and contrasts in law and society. In Japan and the United States, legal and organizational rules tell us what kind of behavior is considered scandalous. When Japanese and American scandal stories differ, those rules—rules that define what is public and what is private, rules that protect injuries to dignity and honor, and rules about sex, to name a few—often help explain the differences. In the cases of Clinton and Uno, the rules help explain why the media did not cover Uno's affair, why Uno's wife apologized on her husband's behalf, and why Uno—but not Clinton—resigned.