Huffpost WorldPost

Japan Earthquake 2011: Why There's Little Looting Among The Wreckage

Posted: Updated:
JAPAN DESTROYED HOME
Getty

If your home was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a tsunami, and radiation from a nuclear power plant, you'd be forgiven for not remaining calm. Yet that's what many Japanese quake victims appear to be doing. People are forming lines outside supermarkets. Life is "particularly orderly," according to PBS. "Japanese discipline rules despite disaster," says a columnist for The Philippine Star.

Anyone who has seen Big Bird in Japan knows the shorthand for Japanese culture: They're so honest and disciplined! They're a collective society! They value the group over the individual! Of course they're not going to steal anything after the most devastating natural disaster of their lifetimes--unlike those undisciplined thieves in post-Katrina New Orleans and post-earthquake Haiti. Even if they're desperate for food, the Japanese will still wait in line for groceries.

There's a circularity to these cultural explanations, says Mark D. West, a professor at University of Michigan Law School: "Why don't Japanese loot? Because it's not in their culture. How is that culture defined? An absence of looting." A better explanation may be structural factors: a robust system of laws that reinforce honesty, a strong police presence, and, ironically, active crime organizations.

Read the whole story at Slate

Around the Web

Japan Earthquake 2011: Nuclear Emergency Workers Return To Plant

2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Massive earthquake hits Japan - The Big Picture - Boston.com

ABC News - Japan Earthquake: before and after

Global Voices · Japan Earthquake 2011

Japanese culture prevents looting, price-gouging after disaster - WMBFNews.com | Myrtle Beach/Florence, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Why Is There No Looting in Japan in Earthquake Aftermath?

Why No Looting In Japan? Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan