Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Can't Politicians Just Say, "Sorry"?

I'll never understand the foolish pride people exhibit. The most recent example is the row between China and Japan over the ship collision and detention of a Chinese ship captain by the Japanese authorities.

I wrote about how this event has escalated and turned into a sour mess and has hurt the pocketbook of both countries here.

Now, the Japanese prime minister has stated that Japan absolutely will not apologize for this incident.

As the Sydney Morning Herald has reported:

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday rejected China's call for an apology and compensation for the detention of a Chinese trawlerman, Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported. "The Senkaku islands are Japan's own territory. From this viewpoint, compensation is unthinkable," Kan told reporters in Tokyo, according to Jiji. Beijing has made repeated calls for an apology and compensation from Tokyo over what it called the "unlawful" detention, demanding "practical steps" to resolve the diplomatic row.

This seems to me that this obstinate attitude by both sides is causing a great deal of misunderstanding. From what this says to me is that China is asking for an apology and compensation for what happened to the ship and the detention of the captain. Possibly a fair claim. Japan insists that the islands are hers. Are they talking about the exact same things? No, it doesn't seem that way.

Excuse me, but it does seem that they might be talking about two different things. I don't see where China is claiming the islands are hers. Maybe she is upset that some fool ship captain went out and caused an incident but they don't feel that he should be made into an example for the whole world to see...

I understand that Japan feels that these islands are hers and there be no need for apology... But isn't this foolish pride business a bit ridiculous at times? I mean, what's wrong with apologizing? Why can't the Japanese prime minister say, "I'm sorry for this regrettable situation and hope that these things never happen again," without admitting any guilt or wrong doing?

Isn't this a regrettable situation? Isn't everyone sorry that this happened? Is there anyone who is happy about all of this?

Hell, I had nothing to do with this situation and I'm sorry it ever happened. Why do the people of each nation have to suffer the consequences of our stubborn political leaders? What would it hurt to say, "I'm sorry that this happened. Let's talk and make sure it doesn't happen again?"

Just flat-out killing the chance for any sort of rapprochement between nations by making idiotic (and seemingly aggressive) statements like "No apology" is foolish. This sort of statement seems antagonistic on the face of it and might not translate well from Japanese to Chinese.

Anyone agree with me?

6 comments:

Graham said...

Because as soon as you say "sorry," you have surrendered your soul to your opponent, who can now bash you, take advantage of you, and suck out anything remaining from you for eternity.

Situation can be something like this:
Japan: "I'm sorry for this regrettable situation and hope that these things never happen again."
China: "You're sorry!? In that case we demand compensation for the tragedy, and we will demand it for the next 50 years! During that time, we will brainwash our government-school attending children how evil the Japanese are!"

Granted that's an exaggeration to say the least, the reality is that this is the kind of thing many people are afraid of, I think.

You can be sorry, but that doesn't mean you will be forgiven. In fact, the most likely case is that you will be condemned for eternity.

mikeintokyorogers said...

I don't know, Graham,

The term in Japanese is "Ikan ni omoimasu" It means that "It is regrettable" It implies "sorry" without taking any guilt.

Andy "In Japan" said...

Mike, the Japanese government probably should make some bland statement about regret over the incident, but probably feel like no matter what, the response will be a slap in the face. Sort of how we might feel when we give someone a gift or do or say something nice, and then get some sort of complaint or nasty reaction in return. Not apologizing may fail to accomplish anything positive, but it is human nature to react in the way they are doing.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Andy, I agree with the bland statement....

Only I fear that the "No Apology" stance is counter-productive.

I also fear that, due to US economic problems that we could be being used as pawns by the USA military industrial complex...

I am, though, humbled that so many seem to think that my position is too pacifist...

I will consider this....
.

Mike

Andy "In Japan" said...

Mike...the no apology stance most likely is counterproductive. All I was trying to say was that it is a natural human response, given the circumstances. That doesn't mean it's a smart response. And you are not being too pacifist in my opinion, but it is a big credit to you that you are willing to re-consider your opinion. That's a trait that not 1 out of 1000 people hold, in my experience. Finally, I have to request that you not feel humble simply because you think out of the box while most others trumpet the standard line. Please, Mike, don't go there. The world needs to hear ideas from fresh thinking.

salil said...

Hopefully they get on with the matter and reach a settlement in a court of law .....
Reaching a decision outside a legal matter could lead to arbitration and waste of time....
Meeting all the requirements when embarking on a foreign soil could make matters only worse...
The ball is on their court now......