Japanese nuances (nyuansu ニュ アンス) of "nuisance"

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From Bruce Balden:

The link below (dated 1/29/15) concerns apparently incomprehensible behavior on the part of the father of a young Japanese man taken hostage and killed by ISIS recently.

The link contains the key phrase "for lack of a better translation", but I wonder how hard they tried to translate it. I'd be interested to know what exactly Haruna Yukawa's father said and if it's really so incomprehensible when taken in context.

The phrase in question was uttered by Yukawa’s father when he formally apologized to the people of Japan for his son “causing a nuisance”.

"Chinese netizens left reeling after father of slain Japanese hostage apologizes to the public" (1/29/15)

I have discovered that the word Haruna's father used was gomeiwaku ご迷惑, and that left me reeling.  In contemporary English, "nuisance" signifies something that is inconvenient, annoying, or vexatious, and that hardly seems appropriate to describe what the Japanese people must have felt when their compatriot was beheaded by ISIS.  "Nuisance" has to do with mild irritation and can hardly be connected in my mind with what happened to Haruna Yukawa.  My problem, thus, is with the English word "nuisance", not with the Japanese word gomeiwaku ご迷惑, since I'm confident that, in a moment of such utter gravity concerning the gruesome death of his own son, the father would have chosen an appropriate word in Japanese.  Consequently, when I read this report and found out what Mr. Yukawa actually said in Japanese, my first reaction is that the English translation must be wrong.

The "go-" prefix is an honorific, which is suitable in the Japanese context, because it refers to the meiwaku 迷惑 of his fellow Japanese citizens.  At issue, then, is what meiwaku 迷惑 really means and how it should be expressed in English.

Meiwaku 迷惑 does have as a standard translation "nuisance" in Japanese-English dictionaries, but, just looking at the Chinese characters, to me it would mean something more like "confusion; puzzlement; mystification; bafflement; bewitching; delusion", and so on.  In Mandarin, 迷惑 would be pronounced míhuò.

When I think of how "nuisance" is used in contemporary English, sentences like this come to mind:  "Stop being such a nuisance!  You're getting on my nerves."  I might apologize for my son or daughter if he or she were getting in people's hair by scampering around, making too much noise, and just generally getting in the way by saying, "Please forgive my child for being such a nuisance", but I would never dream of saying, "Please forgive my son for making a nuisance of himself by being executed at the hands of ISIS."  That simply doesn't compute in my lexicon for suitable uses of "nuisance".

Feeling quite míhuò 迷惑 over the significance of what Mr. Yukawa said to the Japanese people, I asked about a dozen specialists on Japanese language and literature just what meiwaku 迷惑 means.

From a specialist on late imperial Japanese literature and culture:

All the terms you wrote [VHM:   "confusion; puzzlement; mystification; bafflement; bewitching; delusion"] can apply I suppose, but it depends on how you use the word, and they don't apply very often.

In Japanese, the most frequent usage for meiwaku 迷惑 is "nuisance".

When you put the honorific go ご in front of meiwaku 迷惑, it usually implies "I am sorry I'm causing you nuisance" like "gomeiwaku o okake shimasu ご迷惑をおかけします".

The verb for causing nuisance is usually " kakeru かける" as in the case of "meiwaku o kakeru 迷惑をかける."

When other people are causing nuisance, you say "sore wa meiwaku desu それは迷惑です", ”watashi ni totte wa meiwaku desu 私にとっては迷惑です", ”sore wa minasan ni meiwaku o kakeru koto ni narimasu それは皆さんに迷惑をかけることになります" , etc.

I can't think of specific situations where "confusion; puzzlement; mystification; bafflement; bewitching", and so on might apply, but one could say "sore wa meiwaku da nā それは迷惑だなあ," expressing those feelings you are experiencing.

From a professor of premodern Japanese history:

I think the translation you’re finding is pretty accurate, though the reaction in the Chinese comment threads is pretty overblown (I’m not even sure I’d consider it news worthy–as if comment threads weren’t notorious cesspools of hatred and general nonsense).

That being said, I think the misunderstanding here is not about the meaning of the word, but about the linguistic/social codes at work. I don’t think in any way that the Japanese who heard this man speak of his son felt that he was not grieving, or that he was in fact not actually sorry to have inconvenienced others. I think this is equivalent to (although more indirect and about a more serious issue) our English use when we thank someone for taking the trouble: the message is not about the nuisance/inconvenience but, rather, about the gratitude. What the father is saying, to my mind, is, thank you for trying to help us in this terribly difficult time, or, we appreciate what everyone has done to try to solve this situation differently.

From a professor of premodern Japanese culture:

Interesting that this is coming up so many months later, especially since Yukawa's father (Shōichi) didn't say anything at all unusual.

In the video from which the article screenshot is taken, he says:


"I am deeply sorry for causing concern and nuisance to everyone."

From an NHK article:


"Regarding this incident, [I/We/My son] has/have caused a great nuisance to everyone. I am deeply grateful to all who have work on our/my/his behalf, starting with the government."
(Here the subject is less clear, but "We" is surely best.)

Yet another article has:


"[Kenji Goto] worried about my son, and at risk to his own life went to [Syria]. I am deeply sorry, and deeply pained. I hope he is released and comes back to Japan soon."

Chinese netizens were not the only ones impressed. It was a big deal in Korea, too, and the BBC called him something like a paragon of Japaneseness.

Without diminishing the way that Yukawa Shōichi handled himself in any way, it was formulaic and not at all remarkable. In that sense, he was a paragon of Japaneseness. He did what was expected of him, reacted as the script dictated.

The key words are gomeiwaku ご迷惑 (a nuisance [to someone]) and mōshiwakenai 申し訳ない (deep regret = lit. "without an excuse"). They are among the most important words you can ever learn in Japanese, since you'll use them at least a dozen times a day in any sort of work situation. Rule #1: apologize. Rule #2: apologize. Rule #3: Rinse and repeat. Rule #4: Don't forget Rules #1-2.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but the reaction to Shōichi's stoicism and scripted apologies shows more that people don't know much about "Japanese culture" than anything else.

I should hasten to add that the formulaic nature of the apologies does not mean that they were not genuine and heartfelt. They constitute a ritual, and ritual is imbued with deep social and emotional meaning. It's very, very real.


Here, here, and here.

"Nuisance" is definitely the standard. It's a combination of worry and trouble, maybe. I've used "trouble" on several occasions because we just don't use the word nuisance that much in English (anymore?)

From a Japanese language teacher:

It's a standard Japanese expression.  "Nuisance" is far too strong, especially out of context.  "I'm sorry for the bother this caused everyone [in the country, who shared my concern]" is the point he was making.  He's being inclusive here, and everyone understands it.

From a professor of modern Japanese religion:

I think “nuisance” is a decent enough translation. Yukawa is basically saying “I’m sorry for the trouble this has caused.”

While the characters individually are used in other Japanese words to indicate bewitchment, delusion, etc., meiwaku is a standard word that is used in polite speech. The semantic content (“nuisance, trouble”) is less important than the function of expressing sincere regret.

I must admit that I am resistant to the idea that classical Chinese readings of these characters are somehow superior to (or more accurate than) their common usage today.

From a Japanese linguist:

Go-meiwaku, with honorific go-, sets up this noun for use in such idiomatic expressions as go-meiwaku desu ga, '[we know/fear/regret that] it is/may be a bother/trouble/inconvenience [for you], but', followed by a request to do something bothersome, troublesome, or inconvenient.  Unadorned meiwaku probably had a somewhat different meaning before it got pressed into service in this sort of politeness.  I can't check on the history the word just now:  could it have been one of those Meiji period concoctions designed to be translations of European nouns for which Japanese lacked an obvious equivalent?

From a professor of Japanese anthropology:

I am surprised that this phrase was taken literally.  It is a customary phrase without the literal meaning of meiwaku.  Whenever one takes up the time or attention of the other, including the whole population via mass media, one uses this phrase.  The literal meaning of these two kanji has no real message.

The reason for the father to have used that polite ending stems from the Japanese custom — it was his son, which meant himself. So, he is apologizing for taking up the time for his son, that is, himself. Once I received a letter from my colleague who wrote: "For a totally unexplainable reason my good-for-nothing son, as a miracle, passed the entrance examination to the University of Tokyo." This contrasts to what most Americans do — when my sons were small, I heard mothers boasting about their offspring — an absolute lack of manner/sensibility for the Japanese.

From a professor of linguistics specializing in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese:

Well, I’m certainly not going to claim to be an expert on the nuances of Japanese usage, but yes, “nuisance”, or “trouble” or “bother”, is certainly extremely commonly used in colloquial Japanese when asking for something—i.e., go meiwaku janakereba ご迷惑じゃなければ… ‘if it’s no trouble…’. But you know, I had never noticed the disjunct between that colloquial usage and the meanings associated with the transcribing characters. Hmmm… let’s take a look at earlier usages, as maybe documented in the Nihon kokugo daijiten 日本国語大辞典 (Unabridged Dictionary of the Japanese National Language)… Maybe there’s a back history, as for that joke among students, 勉強, meaning ‘study’. Nice point.

[VHM: The joke among students is about 勉強 (Jap. benkyō; Mand. miǎnqiáng), which means "study" in modern Japanese, but in Chinese it means "reluctantly; grudgingly; barely manage to; do with difficulty; strained; forced; inadequate; unconvincing; far-fetched".]

From a professor of Japanese art and culture:

I actually recall seeing the video of the apology on Japanese TV news.   The phrase “go meiwaku” ご迷惑 is a fairly standard one in Japanese apology language.  The “go” is an honorific, which basically tells us we are talking about something that belongs to you, i.e., to the Japanese people in this case.

“Meiwaku” means trouble, difficulty, a problem, and indeed “nuisance” is not so far off the mark.  “Go meiwaku” ご迷惑 is a very standard phrase in such an apology.  I have heard it used to bosses when an employee fails at a task, to people in an elevator when someone sneezed, and by tea ceremony students when they arrived late, thus making everyone wait for them.

This website has some dozens of example sentences in modern (specifically business-related) Japanese.

The nuance of the Chinese that you mention comes across in the literal meanings of the characters in question, but at least in modern Japanese the combination is much more like “[I have caused you] trouble” and hence I apologize.  BTW the verb most commonly attached to it is kakeru, written these days with kana, meaning to hang.  I guess you can think of it as “hanging trouble [on you].”

From a professor of modern Japanese literature:

The problem is the contrast between the literal meanings covered by meiwaku 迷惑 and the perception of those who utter the term.  I remember when the Chinese government (as I recall) balked at an official Japanese apology for all the meiwaku 迷惑 the Japanese military had caused China during WWII.  It sounds puny, and indeed something like "nuisance" or "mischief" would hardly suffice for mass killings and rape, but an apology for having caused someone meiwaku 迷惑 or, honorifically, gomeiwaku ご迷惑, is often felt to be a heartfelt confession of major proportions.  I don't know exactly what the father said, but an apology for his son's having caused the country deep consternation, using the term gomeiwaku ご迷惑, would be considered the normal, decent thing to do.  This mindset is hard for me to swallow, and I see where Chinese criticisms are coming from —

“He cares more about saving face with Japanese society than grieving for his son. Japanese people are scary, dude.”
“The Japanese hive mind is a truly terrifying phenomenon.”
“Japanese society is far more horrifying than fundamentalist Islam.”

— but these are more than a little over the top, too.

From a professor of early Japanese language:

The classical meaning of meiwaku 迷惑 is ‘to be at a loss’ or ‘to not know what one should do.’

Nihon kokugo daijiten 日本国語大辞典 (Unabridged Dictionary of the Japanese National Language) defines meiwaku 迷惑 as (i) ‘be at a loss,’ (ii) ‘an unpleasant feeling due to some action a person has taken,’ and (iii) ‘the loss or unpleasantness of (ii).’ Interestingly, the idea of nuisance or a bother is actually a dialectal usage of what we now call standard Japanese.

From a professor of early Japanese writing and literature:

Kōjien (広辞苑), which usually presents a good overview of the history of common words, provides the following entry for meiwaku 迷惑:

1) どうしてよいか迷うこと。平家物語5「皇居に馴れざるが故に心―す」
2) 困り苦しむこと。難儀すること。天草本伊曾保物語「狼咽のどに大きな骨を立てて―ここに窮まつて」
3) 他人からやっかいな目にあわされて困ること。謡曲、丹後物狂「さぞ花松殿は、ご―に思しめさうずる」。「―をかける」「―な駐車」

VHM:  ― = meiwaku 迷惑

This makes sense to me as the likely development of the word, from "puzzlement or confusion about what to do," to "to be in trouble/have difficulties," to "have problems by virtue of having been placed in a difficult situation by someone else."  The Nihon kokugo daijiten entry, which I'm pasting below [VHM:  see below the acknowledgements], has much more nuanced sub-senses of the term and provides more extensive citations, but the overall picture is pretty much the same.

I see that the posting you're looking at concerns Chinese responses to the father's remark, which raises the issue of how it was translated into that language.  At least in an English-language environment, I think part (though not all) of the apparent oddity of the comment comes from the word "nuisance," which seems more limited to comparatively minor annoyances than meiwaku 迷惑, which can have that sense but (at least to my non-native sensibility) can also refer to more serious difficulties.  The 5th edition of the Kenkyūsha Japanese-English dictionary glosses the word as "annoyance; nuisance; trouble; bother; inconvenience," but perhaps in certain contexts it still can have the somewhat more dire sense one gets from the equivalents in Hepburn's 1867 dictionary: "Trouble, calamity, annoyance."

When all is said and done, I would conclude that "nuisance" may not be the right English word to convey the sense of meiwaku 迷惑, especially when matters of great weight are at issue.  I think that a word like "consternation" is closer to the mark.  Unfortunately, both in Japanese Studies and in Chinese Studies, we often get stuck with inaccurate translations of sometimes key terms and find it incredibly difficult to shake them off, e.g., "dialect" for fāngyán 方言 ("topolect"), but that's another story.

[Thanks to Jay Rubin, David Lurie, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, John Bentley, Frank Chance, Nathan Hopson, Bob Ramsey, Jim Unger, Cecilia Segawa Seigle, Bill Hannas, David Spafford, and Jolyon Thomas]


*天草本伊曾保物語〔1593〕鶴と狼の事「アルトキ ヲウカメ ノドニ ヲウキナ ホネヲ タテテ meiuacu (メイワク) ココニ キワマッテ」


  1. Bathrobe said,

    September 22, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

    The Japanese term 迷惑 is similar in meaning to Chinese 麻烦, in the sense of causing people trouble or bothering people. But whereas Chinese 麻煩 is a general term used for anything that is a bothersome imposition, whether for others or for oneself, in Japanese it is used only in the sense of causing trouble for other people, especially outsiders.

    真麻煩!is an expression of annoyance at how much trouble it is to get something simple done. Behind it lies a sense of resentment that life would be much better it these troublesome tasks didn't come up. So giving other people 麻煩 is regarded as complicating their lives (by asking them to do something).

    迷惑 is a stronger word and is used solely with regard to causing other people trouble. It's formulaic as used in ご迷惑をおかけしました, but it does embody a strong social sense that one should not, in fact, impose on other people or cause them trouble. I would even hazard to say that in everyday life Japanese are considerably more sensitive to the inappropriateness of causing "bother" to other people than the Chinese are.

    One thing that I've heard Japanese say is that "you can do whatever you want, as long as you don't cause 迷惑 to other people". The philosophy behind this is an interesting one, embodying as it does that concept that "freedom" can be enjoyed as long as it is done with social constraints. While it does tend to imprison the individual within society, it also gives people leeway to enjoy freedom of behaviour and thought within those constraints. It's simultaneously a restrictive and liberating approach to individual freedom.

  2. Bob Crossley said,

    September 22, 2015 @ 11:59 pm

    I admit I know no Japanese but perhaps Mr Yukawa by saying "I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you" is saying the same thing that would be expressed in English as "I am grateful for the trouble you have taken".

    Though these two statements feel very different to me as an English speaker they have a psychology in common. An expression of gratitude in English is a way of praising the person you are grateful to, while an apology is a demonstration of your own humility. In relative terms the speaker is saying the same thing in both cases, that the other is superior. So we might say in English "I am humbled by the trouble you have taken on my behalf".

  3. Oliver said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 12:21 am

    Amazing collection of insightful comments on a stupid misunderstanding. (Is Jay Rubin here the novelist/translator Jay Rubin?!)

    I guess this makes me feel better about my Japanese learning process, but makes me quite frustrated about the state of popular cross-cultural journalism.

    I've been studying Japanese very, very slowly and lazily for the past few years–accompanying it with massive amounts of TV, music and movies for exposure since I can only sporadically commit to a lot of deliberate practice. So I am not a professor or scholar of anything Japanese.

    Yet it was completely obvious to me that Yukawa's father was just being serious, solemn, and humble on behalf of his son and the family. I heard his remarks on NHK a few months ago, and I didn't see anything unusual about what he said, either.

    You've collected a marvelous bunch of comments on this (and I will be referencing this post) but I didn't feel like took a particularly deep cultural or linguistic knowledge in order to avoid this misunderstanding. This could be my hindsight working, but it feels like after watching 1-2 seasons of a Japanese TV show, even with subtitles, they wouldn't make this mistake. The English language site you linked doesn't seem to be helping to quell sensationalism, and the author seems somewhat clueless, despite there being カタカナ under the site banner.

    Long live Language Log!

  4. krogerfoot said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 1:01 am

    I agree that the criticism of Yukawa's father is really off base, and rather heartless and ignorant of Japanese language and culture. Anyway, in the next line of the article cited by the professor above, Mr. Yukawa is quoted as saying of his son 「再会できれば思い切り抱きしめてやりたいなと思っております」, "If I could only see him again, I would want to just hold him tight."

    "Nuisance" really doesn't cover the sentiment expressed. I'd translate the father's みなさまにはご心配、ご迷惑をおかけして申し訳ありません as "Let me apologize for the worry and trouble I've put everyone through." It is the standard way of expressing contrition for any imposition, no matter how big or small.

    Some more context is the fact that Haruna Yukawa apparently led a reckless and impulsive life, and inserting himself into a war zone was just the latest and (sadly) last of his misadventures. It led not only to his death, but the death of his fellow hostage Kenji Goto, who heroically returned to Syria to try to win Yukawa's release. It's appalling that anyone would doubt the sincerity of Yukawa's father and the awful responsibility he feels for the consequences of his son's actions.

  5. Richard W said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 1:39 am

    The article mentioned by Bruce Balden says "Yukawa’s father formally apologized to the people of Japan for – for lack of a better translation – his son “causing a nuisance”". However, one Japanese report quotes the father as follows: 正一さんは「息子のために政府や関係の方々にご迷惑をかけた」として謝罪し、各方面の尽力に感謝を示した。

    Based on that, I think it would be misleading to say that the father said or implied that his son "caused a nuisance". Rather, he was expressing his gratitude for all the trouble the government and others went to on his son's behalf (息子のために). And that is also the interpretation of the journalist who wrote the report. (She wrote 各方面の尽力に感謝を示した i.e., the father "expressed his gratitude to everyone for their efforts".)

    As is common in Japanese utterances, there is no explicit subject of the verb phrase ご迷惑をかけた in the quotation above. But certainly, one should not take the subject to be 息子 (my son). There is no particle "wa" or "ga" after 息子 to indicate that it was the son who "caused the nuisance".

  6. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 7:41 am

    From a Japanese professor of modern Chinese history:

    ご迷惑 is really a tricky word in Japanese, and could mean lots of different things depending on the context. It could mean nuisance, but could also mean what you suggested. For example, in terms of what Haruna Yukawa's father said, to my understanding, we can only be sure that his father is mindful to the Japanese people's uncomfortable feeling on his son's incident. He might not have thought that his son has actually done some bad things, but still say sorry for that as the Japanese people are probably confused, puzzled, baffled, mystified, or provoked thinking it nuisance(I do not think this word contain some meaning like bewitching.) So, depending on how the listeners understood the case, it could mean some small confusion or puzzlement on the one hand, or nuisance for some others on the other.

  7. Adrian said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 8:15 am

    I don't find anything surprising or wrong about what the father said or the use of the word "nuisance" as a translation.

  8. leoboiko said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 8:22 am

    Wierzbicka has this article where she argues that the "cultural script" for Japanese apologies differ from the modern European idea of apology, in that they don't assume personal blame—a Japanese apology doesn't necessarily imply that "I did something wrong". So that, for example, one "apologizes" for getting a present (even if it was unrequested and unexpected).

  9. bks said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 8:23 am

    It reminds me of Harry Whittington apologizing for having been shot in the face by Vice President Dick Cheney.

  10. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 9:57 am


    Please explain why you feel that way, especially why you think the translation is fine.

  11. Noel Hunt said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

    re Richard W's remarks: the subject of ご迷惑をかけた is either 息子, 'my son', or 'the in-group to which my son belongs, thus including myself (which also bears some responsibility for the trouble caused)'. There is no doubt about this. Further, ご迷惑をかけた implies no sense of being grateful; that would be expressed separately.

    While it is true that Japanese allows null subjects, this does not imply that the subject is unknown; it may be vague at times but not in this case.

    As many have already pointed out, it is a completely unremarkable statement in Japanese society. Some of those commenting here are committing errors of understanding no less so than those Chinese whose remarks prompted this discussion, albeit without the vituperation and from some watered-down Western perspective.

  12. Richard W said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    @Noel Hunt
    the subject of ご迷惑をかけた is either 息子, 'my son', or 'the in-group to which my son belongs, thus including myself (which also bears some responsibility for the trouble caused)'.
    I agree, but my point was that, based on the quote, I don't think it's the first alternative, because of the phrase 息子のために, which means "on account of my son".

    ご迷惑をかけた implies no sense of being grateful
    That's certainly true of the phrase taken in isolation. It means "created a burden (for others)". But the journalist writes that, given the context, the father was both apologizing (謝罪) and expressing gratitude (感謝).

  13. Noel Hunt said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 7:20 pm

    The phrase 息子のために then rules out the first alternative, leaving the 'in-group' as the subject, so the subject is still implicitly known; in this case the father is bearing responsibility for the trouble caused by his son.

    His gratitude is not expressed in any sense by ご迷惑をかけた. Perhaps you misunderstand the sense of the ren'yōkei 謝罪し (shazai shi) 'apologiz(ed) (and)', and are treating it like a te-form, tying it more closely to the following 感謝を示した (kansha wo shimeshita), 'expressed his thanks'. He is not expressing his gratitude by saying 'go-meiwaku wo kakemashita', he is firstly apologizing for the trouble caused, and subsequently expressing gratitude, his exact words not being recorded.

  14. Richard W said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 7:52 pm

    The phrase 息子のために then rules out the first alternative,
    Right. That's what I said :-)

    leaving the 'in-group' as the subject, so the subject is still implicitly known;
    I didn't make any comment about whether the subject is known. I just made the point that it wasn't the son. The reason I made that point is that the article mentioned by Bruce Balden claimed that the father said his son caused a nuisance.

    in this case the father is bearing responsibility for the trouble caused by his son.
    I agree.

  15. Richard W said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 8:18 pm

    Another report quotes the father as saying something slightly different:

    I think the first part of this could be translated as "I am terribly sorry for the burden this has placed on the people of Japan." In the second part, he thanks the government and others involved in his son's case.

    With all these different versions, I wonder whether they are multiple statements or "quotes" of varying accuracy.

  16. hector said,

    September 23, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

    "Rule #1: apologize. Rule #2: apologize. Rule #3: Rinse and repeat. Rule #4: Don't forget Rules #1-2."

    John Lennon, on the Johnny Carson show, referencing Love Story's "Love is never having to say you're sorry":

    "Love is having to say you're sorry every five minutes."

  17. Dave Cragin said,

    September 25, 2015 @ 10:07 pm

    (I'm a bit late to this discussion…)
    We can find a similar cultural difference between China and America as regards apologizing and death.

    In the US, it’s common to say to surviving family members “I’m sorry for your loss.”

    However, my understanding is that if you were to apologize in China (i.e., say 对不起/dui bu qi), it can sound like you were responsible for the death.

    Both American and Chinese express condolences, but we use different words to do so.

    In risk communication training, we learn that expectations for apologies differ greatly across cultures. One classic example was the death of a person in a US-made elevator in Japan. The elevator company was not at fault for the death, but they understood Japanese culture sufficiently to know they needed to apologize. They sent a high level exec to Japan to do just that. As Americans, we might feel that it’s totally unnecessary, but the company was culturally on-point.

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