Japan Today
Image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)

Arrest proves a common Japanese saying about apologies and police

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Last Monday night, at about 7:40 in the evening, a man walked into the Kamori branch of 7-Eleven in the town of Komono, Mie Prefecture. Instead of picking out one of the many refreshing beverages or delicious snacks that Japanese convenience stores are stocked with, he walked up to the counter, where a 55-year-old clerk was working the register.

Taking out a bottle filled with cleaning solution, the man sprayed the clerk and began shouting at her, telling her “I’ll kill you! Give me the money!”

However, he left empty-handed, fleeing the scene without obtaining any cash or stolen goods. What’s more, a few minutes later the same 7-Eleven received a telephone call, which turned out to be from the same man who had just come in and threatened the clerk’s life, who said "Sakki wa gomen,” meaning “Sorry about what I just did.”

▼ The 7-Eleven where the incident took place


Casually phrased as it may have been, it’s still surprising that he offered an apology. But hey, growing up just about everyone, in all cultures, is told “If you do something bad, you’re supposed to say sorry,” right? However, Japan also has its own unique bit of folk wisdom regarding apologies, with the set phrase “Gomen de sundara, keisatsu wa iranai,” which translates to: “If everything could be solved by saying ‘sorry,’ we wouldn’t need police.”

The implied meaning is that simply saying “sorry” doesn’t magically make everything right, and that sometimes you’ll have to face punishment even if your express remorse for your actions. In this case, though, “If everything could be solved by saying ‘sorry,’ we wouldn’t need police” turned out to be a literal truth. After the man, later identified as 47-year-old Nobuyuki Nagata, called the store to apologize, the police called him back at the same number, asked where he was, and then went to arrest him.

Nagata has admitted to threatening the 7-Eleven clerk’s life, but says “I didn’t want the money.” Whether that gets him off the hook for attempted robbery charges remains to be seen, but at the very least he’s likely looking at prosecution for assault based on the spray and “I’ll kill you.”

*Source: Tokai TV via Livedoor News via *Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Store employee uses barcode scanner to defeat knife-wielding robber

-- Saitama man robs 7-Eleven with knives, steals 3 onigiri

-- Man in Japan orders female store clerk to prostrate herself over misunderstanding with his change

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Half the population of my country wants a President who has never apologized for anything in his life. SMH...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This would-be robber does not sound like he is the full quid. A stint in the Big House will hopefully help rehabilitate him.

I just hope the poor staff member who was threatened can recover mentally to resume her life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've seen too much abuse of service staff in Japan by ojiisans. It makes me sad to see those hard-working staff get yelled at and even have things thrown at them and threatened but stepping in would not be good for most of us.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Loneliness, depression, mental illness?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Where's the article about police recently holding a 70+ year old woman for interrogation for 3 days allegedly for stealing some inarizushi, which after a few days turned out she was telling the truth that a friend had given it to her?

These kinds of news stories do a disservice to Japan by trying to "cutesify" or play down the nature of the crime because the outcome was "Oh so Japanese", rather than doing some actual investigative journalism to shine a light needs to be shone on "the law" overstepping their mark.


8 ( +10 / -2 )

Can a casual "sorry" can't make up for threatening someone's life and throwing cleaning solution in their face? She could have been poisoned, burned or blinded and the terror she must have felt at that moment probably makes his words later moot.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

This does miracles if you are a corrupt Politician or a corrupt Executive. A 5 second 45 degree bow is all you need.

Not so much if you are the average Tanaka. Then you get the whole might of Japanese police on you. At least 10 at the time.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

As a child I learned at my mother's knee, that there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. Life has only proved the wisdom of her words. Only the gaslit and simpletons would be unaware of this universal truth of "justice" played out daily before our very eyes, a cruel travesty that those with money and power to write the laws or flout them take great pains to conceal and deny.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

what dagon and Moon said

-17 ( +8 / -25 )

Good point, dagon. A bow and a sorry usually works if you have power.

-7 ( +16 / -23 )

The implied meaning is that simply saying “sorry” doesn’t magically make everything right, and that sometimes you’ll have to face punishment even if your express remorse for your actions.

Only applies to the plebes.

Obviously not for anyone in authority or with wealth.

Case in point that face at the top of the page could get away with all manner of crimes with a bow and transfer, as has been seen too many times to count.

0 ( +20 / -20 )

Terrible misspelling:

It's not "Saki wo gomen”.

Correct is: 'Sakki wa gomen'.

Moderator: Yes, you are correct. It has been fixed. Thank you.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

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