A reader writes:
A complex question. There is much less sense of individuality in Japan, and this is reinforced by social and legal norms. For example, each family has an official record that is registered with the police. It is customary upon application for admission to college or for employment to produce a certified copy. If your sister were divorced, say, or your brother had a conviction for shoplifting, this would appear on your family's record and would likely endanger your own prospects for education and employment. Each Japanese is, in essence, his brother's keeper.
Another points to this passage:
"Looting simply does not take place in Japan," says Gregory Pflugfelder, an expert in Japanese culture at Columbia University, as quoted by CNN. "I'm not even sure if there's a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear 'looting.'"
My Japanese wife has been glued to the TV since Thursday.
All of her extended family is in Tokyo. She called her father and sister, imploring them to stock up on food, sundries, water, batteries, plastic wrap, and duct tape in anticipation of the Fukushima nuclear power plant failing and releasing tons of radiation into the atmosphere. In addition, the chance of a major aftershock in Tokyo is quite high, so they should be prepared.
Her sister's response: That would be selfish. If they hoarded, others would go without.
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