The Remedy of Apology in Comparative and International Law: Self-Healing and Reconciliation

32 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2004

See all articles by Hilary K. Josephs

Hilary K. Josephs

Syracuse University - College of Law


This Article explores the role of apology in both the comparative and international context, building upon the pioneering analysis of Hiroshi Wagatsuma and Arthur Rosett. From their observation of Japanese and American societies, Wagatsuma and Rosett theorize that apology made with sincerity and commitment is an effective form of dispute resolution across cultures. Lawsuits might be avoided entirely if people apologized to those they have wronged. This thesis is extended to the realm of international law and international relations. Two judicial opinions, one by a Japanese court and the other by the International Court of Justice, are offered in support of the proposition that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted grave violations of the law of armed conflict. This Article proposes that the United States initiate a cycle of virtue and formally apologize to Japan for the dropping of the atomic bombs. Such action would serve to exorcise deep-seated guilt and to regain respect from the international community.

Keywords: Comparative Law, International Law, Apology, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Weapons Of Mass Destruction, War Crimes , Crimes Against Humanity, Japan, Japanese Law, Korea, China

Suggested Citation

Josephs, Hilary K., The Remedy of Apology in Comparative and International Law: Self-Healing and Reconciliation. Emory International Law Review, Vol. 18, pp. 53-84, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Hilary K. Josephs (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States
315-443-9573 (Phone)
315-443-4141 (Fax)

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