During times of disaster, many people suffer from a severe case of individualism, a condition defined by a lack of concern and/or empathy towards other people in situations where one cannot be benefitted. This often results in theft and chaos as people scramble to obtain scarce resources. I bring up this overgeneralized definition of individualism because I recently read an old Slate.com article about the general lack of chaos and crime that followed the earthquakes in Japan in 2011.
People have brought up a number of arguments to explain the witnessed behaviour.
Some argue it’s a patriotic aspect:
The Japanese are resourceful, innovative and disciplined people with a great sense of national pride. While they also have criminals and felons, it is not quite in comparison to the sleaze balls we have in [American] streets.
Sociologists will tell you that the lack of looting is just the result of large numbers of people developing a more orderly society to cope with living in a smaller land mass. Personally, I’ve always thought it’s because they’re a more highly evolved race.
..and others yet have said it’s simply because looting is an act of “the youth” and that the aging Japanese population is simply too old to bother looting.
Personally, I believe it might have to do with the cultural aspect. The (mostly) homogenous Japanese population has probably contributed to an almost unanimous set of cultural values and morals among a lot of Japanese, which has lead to social organization. I think that they refrain from looting in the name of dignity, honesty, and benevolence. But who knows. In any case, the low crime rate after such a large disaster is uplifting.
Whatever reason behind it, I do hope the citizens of Japan share their secret of maintaining high standards of morality in even the toughest times.