Of course, Japanese post-disaster behaviour can’t possibly have anything to do with those amazing little genes we all have that determine how we look, and what diseases we get but not — repeat, NOT — how we behave (unless by “behave”, you mean, “being gay” — that’s the ONLY exception.)
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 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 sky, that the lucky Japanese got a good one and the Haitians got a bad one. This implies that patterns of behavior are essentially arbitrary and any group can acquire them. If Haitians could live in Japan for a few generations they would behave just like Japanese.
Ordinary people know better than the experts… (…)
Let us not forget that even the well-behaved Japanese can run amok in the face of diversity (…) Much as nationalists have tried to downplay it, the Japanese government now concedes that Imperial troops massacred thousands of people and looted indiscriminately during what is known as the “Rape of Nanking”.
But what brought out the murderous worst in the Japanese was confrontation, in times of war or crisis, with aliens. In the case of prisoners or conquered civilians, they were what the Japanese considered inferior aliens. Today’s earthquake survivors are exclusively among their own people. And they treat each other with courtesy and respect.