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Japan: No Looting

Updated on July 4, 2011

Why No Looting in Japan?

There are many comments made in the aftermath of the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami. After witnessing the videos of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, I am honestly at a loss for words. I have been around a long time. I've seen the horrors of war in Vietnam. I've witnessed the aftermath of the '72 Munich Olympic Terrorist Attacks. I saw a ferry capsize in Thailand that killed over 80 people. All are horrific and have their own place in my mind for nightmare scenarios. But, the Japanese horror, with the resulting Nuclear Plant Meltdowns, the earthquake, the tsunami...its apocalyptic on a scale never seen before in modern time. Reports are that at least 10,000 people are dead. I fear that number will at least double. I'm sure most Japanese officials are saying this privately as well.

The thing that is most remarkable to me is the fact there is no looting. This is astonishing. Take a look at the pic in this hub (lower right). These are people helpingeach other out. They have lost their homes, most (if not all) of their families, their livelihood, and whatever possessions one obtains over the course of a lifetime. And, yet, here the Japanese are helping each other to survive. Many say it is due to the Japanese culture. Japanese are said to have a strict code they live by. It is "honorable" to help others. Honor. What a concept that is in this day and time. But, with people so destitute, why is there no looting? Some will say it is due to the police presence. But, strangely, it is also because of organized crime. The Yakuza, the organized crime syndicate is also enforcing order, according to sources. This may or may not be true. I like to believe it is due to the societal nature of the Japanese people. This is a country that was absolutely devastated in WWII. This is the only country to be attacked with atomic weapons. But, Japan recovered and came back as one of the biggest economic powers in the world. In short, the Japanese Phoenix rose from the ashes to prove to one and all that Japan can will itself to come back from disaster.

Helping Each Other


In Comparison...the Aftermath of Katrina

Now, many will also say Japan is a closed society. They believe in helping one another. But, would they be so willing to help a foreign national? I can only present my two experiences with Japanese. In both cases, there is no doubt in my mind, both individuals would have given their last yen to me. But, this is just anecdotal evidence, of course. Maybe someone reading this hub can give their own experience. I encourage you to do that. I'm not saying that Japanese are 100% pure and without sin. They have their flaws, of course. But, this is not the time to discuss those flaws.

One more thing to consider on this question of no looting in the aftermath of Japan's devastating earthquake/tsunami; everything was destroyed. That is another reason there is no looting, in my opinion. What can you steal if everything is already destroyed? Right now, Japan is in almost a prehistoric living situation. People live outside in the cold weather. They have little in the way of food and water. In a dire situation like this, the ultimate good does come out in people. In a structured society, like Japan, this is so very beneficial at a time like this.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is one of the saddest chapters in American history. New Orleans was practically floating out into the Gulf of Mexico. But, the difference is that people helped themselves (literally), instead of helping each other. Perhaps I should rephrase that. But, I won't. I am going to let it stand. How many times did you see people coming out of stores with TVs, DVDs, washing machines, toasters and magazines? Yes, there were many people who came out with food and water. I can't argue with that. This was an untenable position for these people to live. But, there was absolutely no reason to be stealing beer, whiskey and the like from merchants who had long since left the area. What galled me even more, people were smiling at the camera as they left with new shoes, clothes and car stereos. Sadly, there were police who took part in this also. Compare this with the Mississippi gulf coast, which got the most wind of any other state on the gulf. You didn't see this so much in southern Mississippi. In fact, people there, both black and white, were helping each other. I don't think New Orleans was as devastated as much as this area of Mississippi. New Orleans just got the most publicity on TV. That is the major difference. Were there people in New Orleans who were kind, considerate and helped others? Of course there were. I don't deny that happened. But, lawlessness broke out in an unprecedented scale when common decency should have prevailed in the Crescent City.

So, what can we learn from the "no looting" in Japan? I have learned that the Japanese have a different set of rules to live their lives by than most in the West do. Honor seems to be above all else in the Japanese society. With this mindset, they have gained the admiration of the world by their steadfast adherence to helping each other during a horrible tragedy. No looting mentality in this tragedy will only help in rebuilding the infrastructure of Japanese society. The Japanese people must remain resilient and vibrant as they claw, scratch and fight their way out of this disaster. Would we react in the same manner as the Japanese if something similar struck the United States? Probably not. You would see the same kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth from people as you saw from the film pieces on MSNBC, CBS, CNN and all the other networks castigating George W. Bush (after Hurricane Katrina). We are a nation that wants help from Big Daddy at every opportunity now. We are not self-reliant. We are a nation of whiners depending on the federal government to help us when things get tough. And I'm not just talking about natural disasters here. I'm talking about when we lose our job, our home or our ability to pay our bills. Bill Clinton started this when he feels your pain. George W. Bush perpetuated it. Barack Obama turned it into a fine art.

At one time, America was like Japan. We pulled up our bootstraps, went to work, and pulled ourselves out of adversity. Imagine if we, as a nation, faced what the "greatest generation" faced in World War II. I fear, I greatly fear we would throw our hands up and surrender with our present mindset. From our wimpy leadership on down, this country is only a shell of its former self. It will be the Japanese mindset of not giving up, honor, helping their neighbors, and a willingness to sacrifice to achieve the common goal of rebuilding Japan that will prove to be one of the greatest achievements in world history. Japan will recover.


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  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    doodlebug, I could not agree with you morel. The Japanese are heroic people. I concur, I hope we never have to find out if we are their equal by this kind of tragedy. Thanks for making a comment on this hub.

  • doodlebugs profile image

    doodlebugs 7 years ago from Southwest

    We could learn a lot from the courage and civility of the Japanese people following this horrible event. I just hope we never have a similar quake in the U.S. to test our morals during a widespread national disaster.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Don't feel like the lone ranger, Polly. I get the feeling HP would be happy if all conservatives would leave their site. But, liberals have never been successful in a liberal only site. Just ask the former owners of Air America about that.

  • Pollyannalana profile image

    Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

    Well I can tell you sometimes I have the feeling they would like to be rid of me...but don't

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Moejefballa, thank you!

  • mojefballa profile image

    Ikeji Chinweuba 7 years ago from Nigeria

    interesting hub, a bit of informative.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Polly, I think I would quit HP if you weren't around. lol Made my day. Thanks for posting, I appreciate it.

  • Pollyannalana profile image

    Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

    People always want to jump you for being un-American but all around even here people say they are one way but certainly act another and yes yes yes I am totally ashamed of so many things in this country and Christianity it was built upon. I never look to see it getting any better. Thank you for showing Americans what God is all about!

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    mulberry, what can I say? you bring forth valid points in your comment. There are major cultural differences in both the USA and Japan. I want to reiterate that neither culture is superior, overall, over the other. However, I do believe that the Japanese culture enables them to cope better with a disaster as we witnessed them do so after WWII. Your points about our need for individualism is right on the mark. This is ingrained in us from the start by our Capitalist system of making your way into the world on your own merits. This was an excellent comment along with all the other very good comments. Thank you for coming by. I hope to see you again.

  • mulberry1 profile image

    Christine Mulberry 7 years ago

    I think much of what you say is true. It is a cultural thing, whether we are inclined to help others or help ourselves, whether we depend on the government to bail us out or not.

    American culture has always been different than Japanese culture. Some of that is positive, but some aspects are a double edged sword. Americans have always been individuals (our individual rights, our individual wealth, etc are what matter to us). Honor hasn't been nearly as attractive to us as individual wealth and power.

    But honestly, I'm not sure our presidents are that much to blame. Sure I think they are part of it maybe. (In fact that empathy, an even the entitlement programs are well intentioned, though they clearly present HUGE problems as far as encouraging the right ethic)

    Rather, I would say families and communities set our example. They raise us. They teach us how to be. How we are is the reason schools fail (parents and communities don't support them), same reason marriages fail (we teach kids that they are "special" and that it's more important to obtain everything they want than to love and support someone else), and so on. Our individual selves are what is important and any failure means that someone else is the problem or needs to fix things.

    While socialism may enable people who don't take responsibility, the opposite may turn us into the individualist who is concerned only by our own individual needs.

    The government is just stepping in where we are failing at supporting each other. As always, I support us each individually taking a look at ourselves versus blaming everyone else including the government. Cultural changes may be needed, but I'm not sure they are the ones we always hear about.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    jreuter, no need to apologize at all! I want to see opposing views. I just ask they be backed up as you most certainly did. That said, I can only say I disagree with you on most of what you say. Much of what you say is just what I have here; anecdotal evidence that we gathered from the wire services over this tragedy. I don't think the Japanese are superior overall to us or anyone else. I simply pointed out (and I think most would agree) they handle disasters better than we do. They were absolutely devastated in WWII. More so than Germany, according to at least two sources who were in both places post-WWII. Japan was the only nation to be attacked with atomic weapons. They recovered. Honestly, name another country that could have not only rebounded, but become one of the biggest economic powers in the world. They are dealing with one of the biggest, if not the biggest disasters in modern time.

    Do I think there is 100%, absolutely boni-fide no looting? I would also be wrong if I said no to that question. Perhaps my title should be "Japan: Almost No Looting." But, I think what I have now is far more accurate than that. In comparison to Katrina, Australian floods, etc., I think whatever looting in Japan is going on is minuscule. One thing I must take issue with you on; your remarks about the Japanese in WWII. This is tantamount to blaming the sons for the sins of the father. I realize you didn't mean it that way and you indicated that. But, I don't see how you can compare the Japanese economic superpower of today with the Japanese military power of the 30s and 40s. I appreciate your comment. I sincerely mean that. I do hope you will return.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Wayne, I look forward to your hub on this issue. I'm in awe, totally in awe how the Japanese are reacting to this horrible tragedy. I think the world can learn a great deal with how they are handling this horror of horrors. Are they making mistakes? Of course they are. But, overall, I applaud them.

    Danny, they are certainly a society that places honor above all else. That is good. But, it can also be bad as we see in the Islamic faith where honor killings are considered...well, honorable. Muslim apologists will go bonkers in 5...4...3...2

  • jreuter profile image

    Jason Reuter 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

    Hey David, my apologies for throwing some negativity into a very positive hub, but I've read in numerous places that the idea of a looting-free Japan is simply a myth. While I would love to believe the opposite, I don't think it is wholly accurate. There have been numerous reports of men posing as electric company officials (or something of the like), gaining access to people's homes and then robbing them blind. I feel like a real downer, but I'm interested in the truth above all else.

    And DannyMaio, yeah, I love the Japanese, one of my best friends in the world hails from Japan, but I'd be somewhat remiss to categorize people in this way, saying one group is more of less moral than another. History, unfortunately, reveals a much different picture. The war crimes committed by Japan during WWII eclipse even the Germans, including forced prostitution, forced labor, torture, human experimentation, and the killings of over 6 million people. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying you shouldn't love the Japanese and think they are great (they are), or focus on atrocities done in the past (because no culture is innocent) but every human is capable of unspeakable acts of cruelty and selfishness, no exceptions. To say that one country is more moral, civilized, or truly human than another just seems a little naive and unfair, that's all.

    Anyways, all in all a good hub, I'm just not sure how accurate it is. But um, I would wager that there is a LOT less looting than there was during Katrina, since I don't think it would be possible to loot more than that. We seem to have it down to a science here in the states.

  • DannyMaio profile image

    DannyMaio 7 years ago from New York

    GREAT HUB!! The people of Japan are great people, they are civilized and act like true human beings. It was disgusting to see what happened here in the US after katrina. We should have the morals of the Japanese people.

  • Wayne Brown profile image

    Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

    Your finest hour, David...I worship in your church and applaud your courage. Look for a similiar rant from me tomorrow..,Excellent!

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Tony, I feel saddened whenever I see looting during a crisis such as the riots in LA, Katrina and so on. The looting seems to involve all classes and races of our society. People should be helping each other during a crisis instead of making things miserable. I'm not sure the looters even realize they are stealing or that the merchants had to PAY for that merchandise. I think we can all heed a very valuable lesson from the Japanese. Thanks for coming by, Tony.

  • tony0724 profile image

    tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

    David I too marvel at the good people of Japan and how they are handling this disaster of epic proportions. I have a reverence for their culture which seems to be rooted in honor , purpose and dignified behavior. I work right next to a Japanese language school and all of the staff there are native to Japan. They are lovely people and I am slowly developing a friendship with them. But like many it is just heartbreaking to see what is happening in their native land and I pray for the good people of Japan daily.

    Most Americans probably won't notice the fact you pointed out of no looting. Over here we loot at every oppurtunity like the LA riots in the early 90s and I know I lived in LA at the time. My God when a basketball team wins a championship the city gets put on fire. We are so dumb !!!

  • ahostagesituation profile image

    SJ 7 years ago

    Hi, I'm SJ, and no you definitely didn't minimize Katrina. I think that my friend's experience was just the first thing that popped in my head while reading your hub. FEMA's response was just such a cluster eff that that didn't really help anything down there. I know it's a stereotype but many think of Japan as being culturally more sophisticated as a whole than the US. Sounds like they're definitely dignifed in disaster.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    ahostagesituation, I hope I did not lessen the impact of the Katrina disaster in NO in this hub. That was not my intent. I intended to bring out the comparison of how different cultures (in this case, Americans and Japanese) react in stressful situations. Thanks for your comment and I wish the very best for you friend.

  • ahostagesituation profile image

    SJ 7 years ago

    One of my friends deployed to New Orleans for disaster relief shortly after Katrina still to this day will not talk about all that happened and she saw there. She had PTSD from it. Thanks for this though, you brought up some decent points, I hadn't considered the lack of looting in Japan.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Mikio, I believe all the credit should go to the Japanese people. They are facing a disaster that few in modern time could ever believe would happen. But, it has happened. The Japanese people are being admired by people all over the world. There is much we can learn from the Japanese society. Thanks for coming by. I appreciate it.

  • Mikio profile image

    Mikio 7 years ago

    Thank you for finding something positive about the disaster in Japan. Maintaining a sense of dignity in the face of adversity is a true mark of being 'classy.' Japan as a whole has shown a lot of 'class.' I thought America was acting with a sense of class during the 9-11 crisis. The Catrina was a fiasco, as you correctly described. A great hub!

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    LRC, that is high praise coming from you. ;-) I'm not sure we have every agreed on anything before. Seriously, I am in awe of the Japanese people. They are going through something we can only imagine. What horrors they must be experiencing right now. Thanks for coming by, LRC.

  • LRCBlogger profile image

    LRCBlogger 7 years ago

    Excellent David, thanks for bringing this to light. What amazing examples we can learn from.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Frog, the Japanese certainly live by their own code, don't they? Honor is everything to them. I have a new respect for the people of Japan. They have proven, once again, they "can take it." They are suffering, sure enough. But, that doesn't entitle them to take advantage of others during a crisis. They really get it. Thanks for coming by.

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    stefancando thanks for the compliment. Come back anytime.

    FCEtier, what you say is true of a lot of New Orleans refugees. We have two families who swore they would never go back to NO, even for a visit. I agree that Katrina brought out the worst in people. But, I like to think it can bring out the best in people also as witnessed in Japan. Thanks for your comment.

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 7 years ago from Arlington, TX

    Having been in Japan, I found that the people there are a civil society focused on the betterment of their nation. They truly understand the concept of unity and respect for each other and the society they have created.

    The permissiveness and "what's in it for me" attitude that have permeated our society runs contra to the Japanese thought process and it is reflected by the results when a national disaster occurs.

    Well done and voted up!

    The Frog

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

    OP, there was a lot more that I could say. But, I'm sure it would be flagged as hate speech on HP. It's happened to others before. Thanks for coming by.

    timntim, I sometimes wonder what MLK Jr. would think of today's youth. Not just black kids, but white as well. Everyone seems to be engrossed in "me, me." I doubt if most of todays youth could even tell you what MLK Jr. even did for them. It's sad on so many different levels. Thanks for coming by.

  • FCEtier profile image

    Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

    Katrina brought out the worst in LA on several levels.

    It also helped a lot of us decide to leave. I've been in North Carolina for 5 years and love it here!

  • stefancando profile image

    stefancando 7 years ago from Iasi

    I'd really like to see more hubs like this one on HubPages!!!

  • profile image

    tlmntim9 7 years ago

    Amen brother.I was, have been and continue to be disgusted the attitudes of the Clinton, Obama, hate filled, lazy,stupid,lying,welfare sponges.

    ML King gave his life for nothing!

    His legacy is Clown Jessie Jackson, idiot Obama, violence, hatred, crack cocaine, gangster rap, entitlement whiny, obese, baby making machines after spending a life without work, education, morales, values, earning nothing, achieving nothing and required to do nothing while hating the world for how hard they have it; generations of people so full of rage and hate for everyone and everything,who have never once stood on their own two feet and taken responsibility for their actions, their life or the lack of either because it's all your fault!!!!

    These same people, the ones in the videos in New Orleans, are the same who look at me with extreme hatred and virulent racism every 1st and 15th when I have the gall to go to the grocery store to spend a bit of MY PAYCHECK to feed MY FAMILY!

    The same ones who park up front with fake handicapped stickers or ones for being 400 pounds of Government sponsored Twinkie's and Bologna.

    The same ones on the other side of the counter at the city, state and federal government agencies that we all must use who glare out with hatred and contempt for everyone not the same color and treat all but their own like trash while giving every favor and oppertunity to their own.

    the same who hire nothing but their own race.

    the same who steal, lie and con their own when ever possible.

    The same who in positions of power always abuse their position for money and revenge against other races.

    I wish I could take MLK by the hand and tell him...I'm so so sorry! They don't give a damn what you did, said or thought. Rest now! Its over! The'yd hate you too if you were here as you would probably say, get a job and an education, find Christ!

    Tim W


  • profile image

    Old Poolman 7 years ago

    Writer David, this was an amazing hub. You said a lot with out even saying it. We have lost so much in this country, and helping one another and pulling together is a big part of that. You did great my friend.


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