Amidst the heartbreaking devastation in Japan, many have noticed how much social solidarity — and little stealing — there has been. The Telegraph blogger Ed West notes vending machine owners giving out free drinks, in contrast to large-scale looting after Katrina.
“The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two; no industrialised country since then has suffered such a death toll, ” Ed West writes. “And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting, and I’m not the only one curious about this.”
Where supplies have become available from relief organizations, there have been orderly, polite, calm lines with no reports of fights, pushing, or cutting in. Supermarkets have lowered prices drastically and vending machine owners have opened the doors of their machines and handed out drinks at no charge to those relief workers, emergency personnel and volunteers there to help in the wake of the multiple disasters.
“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?”
“The employees who had come over from Japan displayed humility, quiet dignity and a determination to honor their families by doing a good job.” writes Kay Daly at GOPUSA.com. “That one word, honor, seems to dictate the behavior of the Japanese culture. They value the young, the old, their educational achievement, career goals and family. Not that there aren’t a few bad apples in the bunch, but crime statistics tell a pretty accurate tale. In Japan, it would be a stain not only on the reputation of an individual who decided to loot, but a shame that the whole family would have to bear.”