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Secrets, Sex, and SpectacleThe Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States$
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Mark D. West

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226894089

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226894119.001.0001

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(p.285) 7 Apology
Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle
University of Chicago Press

After each scandal, participants in Japan grovel through a ritual of remorse, resignations, and occasionally redemption. In the United States, executives usually do not resign until they are about to be kicked out. Many studies of apology in Japan base the perceived difference on cultural patterns. That Japan is more apologetic than America has also been attributed to differing notions of shame and guilt. This chapter argues that we can better understand differences between Japanese and American patterns of apology and resignation by looking beyond theory to a tiny empirical slice of the phenomenon: public apology in scandals. Among the relevant rules, rules of individual apology suggest, though quite equivocally, a stronger role for apology in Japan than in America. Different rules affect apologies in groups. This chapter focuses on those that encourage resignation as a form of atonement.

Keywords:   public apology, scandals, Japan, United States, resignation, rules, atonement, groups, individual apology

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