Why Is There No Looting in the Wake of the Earthquake in Japan?

On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by what appears to be the largest scale natural disaster in modern history (link NOT safe for work!). If we take the data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey on their website as a reference, then the 2011 Japan earthquake was the fifth most powerful earthquake since the tracking started in 1900.

The devastation unleashed by this massive earthquake was only a beginning. The tsunami tidal wave that followed was easily the most ferocious in our lifetime. There is a lot of water in the Earth’s oceans and a good chunk of it has swept across the Pacific coast of Japan, destroying everything in its path. There is no way the force of such scale could have been contained.

The tsunami water made it as far as 10km in land in some parts of Japan. Yet as if that weren’t enough, the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami was not the end of it. The earthquake disabled the mechanisms powering the cooling tower of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and subsequent tsunami then knocked out the backup power generators, removing the possibility to cool down the reactor, resulting in overheating and explosions which could lead to the leakage of radioactive materials (how much has been leaked has not been confirmed at the time of this post).

So within a span of a couple of days, Japan suffered from the fifth most powerful earthquake since the recordkeeping started, quite possibly the largest tsunami experienced on this planet in centuries and a realistic possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of people live in make-shift shelters, tens of thousands are unaccounted for, parts of towns have been entirely wiped out, transportation options are either limited or completely paralyzed, there is a shortage of food and a shortage of food in some areas yet there still have been no reports of any looting going on in Japan.

Natural Disasters and Looting

There are several interesting points to consider here:

  1. Almost all natural disasters that happened in recent history were followed by out of control looting. Whether we look at Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 tsunami in IndoChina, or recent earthquakes in Haiti or Chile – the looting seemed to have been a natural part of the aftermath.
  2. No mainstream media reports on the fact that there has been no looting in Japan despite it suffering from one of the largest scale natural disasters in modern history.

If you do a search on looting after natural disasters, you’ll find countless experts talking about and justifying the “psychology of looting”. I can’t help but ask – why do these experts ignore the fact that Japan is not experiencing any looting and how would they explain the inconsistencies in their theories?

Since I’m the first to bring this up, I’ll be also the one who’s gonna say it like it is. I take a lot of heat from internet tough guys for not holding back and speaking the truth even if it’s not entirely politically correct. But rather than toning it down for fear of offending someone – which as a travel writer I seem to be the only one to NOT do – let me get right down to it and say that there is no excuse for looting.

Japan vs Other Countries

Internet tough guys like to excuse inexcusable behavior of uncivilized people using the “necessity argument”. When a Cambodian thief robbed me, I called him a thief, but got bashed for talking badly about a person whose struggle to survive forced him to do it. Forced him to do it my arse. When someone is a rapist, perhaps it’s time to call them a rapist and when someone is a murderer, perhaps it’s time to call them a murderer. Instead of looking for the ways to excuse their unlawful behavior (and encouraging it from re-occurring), it’s time to call a spade and spade even if it may sound seemingly bigoted or racist.

Lack of looting in Japan is a proof of that. If you listen to what the prime minister of Japan tells his fellow Japanese, you will notice that he talks about rebuilding a new Japan. He asks his fellow Japanese to support him in this huge task and doesn’t hide the fact that it will require a lot of hard work, but it won’t be the first time when a Japan will have to rebuild itself from the ashes.

This rhetoric is entirely different from that coming from places like Indonesia, Thailand or Haiti after they’d suffered from similar, even though smaller scale natural disasters. Instead of appealing to their citizens to roll up their sleeves and get to work to rebuild their countries, people of those nations focused on whining about how poor they are and made their recovery a responsibility of others. Utilizing the “oh, we’re so poor” excuse, they sat with their feet up on the items they stole during looting, waiting for the people from the west to send money and workforce to rebuild their country.

While it goes without saying that Japan will receive assistance rebuilding, the Japanese will not sit with their feet up whining about being poor and needing others to fix their country up. They will be in the front line, they will be the first ones and the most hard working to see their country back up and running. Japan was the only country that had cities wiped out with the nuclear weapons. There were parts of it that were literally levelled after the World War II. Yet if you look where it got within a few decades from this total destruction, you’ll see that if you swap whining with hard work, anything can be achieved.

After the WWII, Japan was in a far more desperate state than many other countries. Yet they bounced back and turned into an economic powerhouse. If Japan could do it, then countries that had never been brought this low should find it even easier to recover. Taking that into an account – if Cambodia is still poor 30 years after the rule of Khmer Rouge, then there is nobody else to blame but Cambodians themselves. They can continue blaming Khmer Rouge for additional 30 years and then additional 30 years and so on and on and on and they will still be poor. Because complaining about the past long gone will not fix the problem.

The fix to the problem is in the willingness to roll up the sleeves and get to work. As is seen from Japan’s example (as well as an example of many European countries), hard work can turn a country from being completely depleted into being economically strong. On the other hand, there is yet to be one example of a country becoming economically strong after decades of waiting around and complaining about being poor. It only proves that you cannot help someone who cannot help themselves. No matter how much international aid is sent to Cambodia, it’ll end up being nothing but wasted resources. Supporting this culture of handouts is anti humanitarian and should be avoided. If you do want to donate, then support Japan where your graceful donation will not go to waste or to support the laziness.

Yes, it may sound bigoted, but we can either beat around the bush and look for excuses to justify their laziness, or we can say it like it is, and address the real issue. The Japanese people are not freeloaders. They are hard workers and through this approach they were able to resurrect their country from the ashes after WWII devastation. People with this type of respect for themselves and their homeland will not stoop to the level of a looter. If people of Cambodia, Indonesia, Haiti or other similar freeloading countries turned their whining into hard work, they would have as strong economies as Japan has. And this is the fact, as it is the way to explain why there has been no looting in the wake of the earthquake in Japan.

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