Much is being made – and rightly so – of the lack of violence and looting in the aftermath of Japan’s recent catastrophes.
Most of the looting US audiences see in their media is done by impoverished Americans, many of whom are non-white. This is because many times the worst devastation occurs in impoverished neighborhoods where, unfortunately, many of our non-white brothers and sisters are born and die, sometimes with very little hope of economic betterment. If any people, regardless of race, are impoverished, of course they will loot. It’s really that simple. Wealthier people tend not to loot, because they don’t “need” to. They have the best chance of escaping areas of devastation, the best storage-reserve-retrieval systems, the best insurance, and the best opportunities for reconstruction.
It is a false paradigm to project the behavior of some impoverished Americans onto the Japanese. It’s not just a matter of the Japanese being civilized, orderly, and blessed with a built-in system of deep courtesy. The US media I have seen have reported the behavior of general urban Japanese populations, not the behavior of “ghettoized”, impoverished Japanese. Therefore it is a mistake to project US social expectations on a populace whose actions are being reported generically, with no particular focus on how impoverished sections of that populace are, or are not, behaving.
Finally, the Japanese wisdom – which effectively tends to limit looting – is that the local stores still operating in the affected areas are simply giving – donating – their supplies. And they are doing it with a sense of order. The supplies are not just thrown at “customers”, but sensibly rationed.
Kudos to the Japanese for their compassion, practicality, and common sense.