14 March 2011

Why No Looting in Japan?

I ran across this interesting couple of paragraphs in the Telegraph (UK) today:

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. 

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?

Very curious question, and an important one to answer, especially in a consumerist culture like the one in which we live.  But then, Japan is a consumerist culture as well.  The mystery only deepens.

[Original post from which the excerpt was taken is here.]

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