"It's a Kabuki ritual," says Robert Whiting, author of several books on Japanese culture, including "Tokyo Underworld" and "You Gotta Have Wa." "Official in charge bows deeply in apology and, perhaps, resigns, but then re-enters again from the back after media interest has died down and the price of the company's stock is back up. You see the same thing in politics."
"One of the things about Japanese corporate apologies is that it is not always clear who they are directed at," Jones says. "And that's the whole idea."