Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Is There No Looting In Japan?

Why Is There No Looting In Japan?, CNN, Jack Cafferty
"Journalist and social commentator Ed West wrote in the UK Telegraph yesterday how struck he was by the Japanese culture throughout this ordeal. He observed how supermarkets cut their prices in the days following the quake and how vending machine owners were giving out free drinks as "people work together to survive." And West was most surprised by the fact that there was no looting."
Why Is There No Looting In Japan?, UK Telegraph, Ed West
"This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?"
There are over 3300 comments under West's post, all since yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Why no looting in Japan after tsunami and earthquake 2011


Japan and Haiti earthquakes


Bix said...

On a similar note, from this story in the NYTs:

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers

... about the workers who stayed behind to help contain the damaged reactors:

"But Japanese are raised to believe that individuals sacrifice for the good of the group."

There does seem to be a difference in culture. I was more exposed to an every-man-for-himself mentality. Hard to say if one is better, but that's how it was. I wonder if this cultural personality is at the root of our resistance in advancing Universal Health Care.

Perovskia said...

That's such a good point raised. When I saw the news and they showed the inside of a grocery store, I knew something was off but I couldn't place what it was. Everything was a mess, food strewn everywhere, but not all of it taken; the shelves weren't empty. I couldn't place it, but that's exactly what it is.

I agree on the different cultures and the thoughts on health care/how it would impact.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's many reasons, but one comment on your links said something interesting about how the people of Japan are more homogenized (their word) than most 'Western' countries, so perhaps they share common upbringings and outlooks.

While it doesn't exactly address the reason why there's no reports of looting, it is quite interesting to me.

Don't think I'm saying that a single race living together would be better, because I've always thought that one of these days when multi-race becomes the dominant race, there might be more peace (assuming we stop over-populating and there's enough resources).

But that'll be a long time coming, so until that time, there'll probably be more racial clashes.

Ok here's MY theory of why there's no reports of looting in Japan. They have less hate and resentment of people "above" them. Our ancient lit teacher made us read a story - from some famous author whose name I forget - about a group of boys (mid teens maybe) that somehow ended up in a fancy abandoned house.

Being that these were rambunctious boys, they started breaking things, slowly at first, then more and more until it was like they were frantic. They didn't stop until every single thing was broken.

Our teacher had each one of us tell why we thought the boys went to such extremes with their vandalism. I said that they wanted to hurt those that oppressed them, including the system that enabled it.

So that, combine with panic that major disasters invoke, are what I feel cause most looting.

No one's mentioned how there's no rapes being reported after Japan's quake/tsunami, like there was with Katrina and Wilma. Lack of structured law enforcement seems to brings out evil desires, thinking there's less chance of being caught. I don't know if those two hurricanes are unique in having a marked increase in rapes after the disaster.

Charles R. said...

Reports of looting after Katrina are largely mythical.


Bix said...

That was an interesting story about the boys in the house. I think you have a point. A kind of retribution for oppression?

I'm having a hard time with this. There are so many differences in the communities, so many variables ... culture, government, income. Although, there does seem to be anger in it, the looting as well as the raping. Not that the Japanese aren't angry, but if they are, they channel it or express it in another way.

So, some have been living for 5 days squeezed in with hundreds of others in shelters, with no electricity, running water, workable toilets, no privacy, and "one and a half rice balls a day," yet:

Those in the shelters try to maintain the orderly routines of normal Japanese life, seen in the tidy rows of shoes and muddy boots at the doorway to the shelters, where everyone is in socks.
Many Japanese have endured the privations with a similar mood of quiet stoicism, and the strong sense of community that still prevails in these northern rural areas. Even the hardest-hit areas have remained orderly and friendly, and crimes like looting are largely unheard of.

From (with photos):

I don't recall seeing much like that at Katrina's Superdome.