Sumo Yokozuma Asashoryu and boxer Kaneda both held apologetic press conferences this past week in Tokyo. The whole apology thing has been getting out of hand lately - there seem to be so many disgraced politicians, corrupt businessmen, inept policemen and dishonourable sportspeople lately that the whole ritual of public apology has slid into a rather sordid state of affairs. Particularly annoying are the ever righteous 'wide show' and so called evening 'news' anchors and their highly well behaved 'commentators' (they should be renamed 'guardians of the status quo'/ ''don't rock the boat-ers'), who endlessly try to elongate and dissect the 'sincerity' and 'purity' of the apologies.
I had a vision of a whole new mode of public sculpture in Japan - bronze casts of various public figures bowing low or sinking to their knees in apology placed on very high plinths around the place. There could be tasteful composition sculptures of groups of bowing people, like the US Marine monument of the Iwo Jima flag raising. A prize could be awarded annually to the sculpture which best manages to express the sincerity and truth of the apology, judged by an expert panel of Zen Roshi's, Freudian analysts, sculptors, former Samurai and news anchors. Or, NHK could begin a digital television channel which just loops endless permutations of people apologising formally in public - a multiplying public archive of apology for the nation. Actually, rather more practically, someone should create little digital apologies for mobile phone screens. On being told off at work, one could simply open one's phone and hold the screen solemnly up to the boss and play the appropriate apology scenario. This way, everything is purely above board, detached and without any nonsense - the trick would be in selecting the right scenario for the occasion, thus 'reading' the situation and expressing one's sincerity and sense of respect.
All of this attention on unfortunate individuals, also rather conveniently shifts the focus away from the fact that Japan is a country which seems averse to apologising - to former wartime victims, victims of mistaken blood transfusion which has led to HIV infection, victims of environmental and health devastation or to tax payers who seem forever to be paying for golfing trips for politicians or the building of massive, empty construction projects which go bankrupt.