As Japan’s agony grinds on, more and more foreign observers are marveling at the disciplined, orderly behavior of the victims of one of the greatest natural disasters of our time.
Homeless Japanese patiently stand in line for food and water. They huddle uncomplainingly in cramped shelters. They do not loot. Why is the aftermath of catastrophe in Japan so unlike that in Haiti or Chile or New Orleans?
Japan expert after Japan expert has been rolled out to give the obligatory one-word answer—culture. But that’s not an explanation. All these “experts” do, is to describe the Japanese: they are community-minded, polite, honest, stoical, they care about “face”, etc. We knew that already. Tell us why they are that way.
The implication of this mantra-like repetition of the word “culture” implies that cultures drop out of the…
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