The Kabuki Art of Public Apology

Contrition doesn't mean much if there's no follow-through.

Don't apologize unless you mean it.

Photographer: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

Public contrition has long been an art in Japan, and this past month has offered a great opportunity to study the form. June has seen a sudden rash of apologies from top CEOs (including the bosses of Toshiba, Sharp, Takata and Toyota) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The chastened executives have each stood stiffly before a sea of cameras, begging forgiveness before plunging into a deep bow. (Tears were optional.)

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