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Looting in Japan?

Picture of a possible looter walking away with beer. (Photo by Eric Bellman WSJ)Photo by Eric Bellman/ Wall Street Journal

I have had many a discussion with friends and associates regarding the topic of how well the citizens of Japan handle themselves during a crisis. Of course the topic of looting comes up and I recall the many YouTube clips and blog postings stating how well behaved everyone is. “Why is there no looting in Japan?” is a question you will see all over the internet. The question is not “why?” but “when?” The unfortunate reality is that eventually human nature will take over and in some cases the mob mentality will add to the problem. Furthermore, the need for simple items can be so great that it will make even the most honest person result to looting.

Now I am by no means bashing Japan because I love my home away from home. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the culture and the people of Japan, but when it comes down to the “nitty gritty” people will do what they do. Hunger, fear, desperation and in some cases greed will make people do some horrible things. To be quite honest I am impressed that people have had the resolve to hold out this long and not take to the streets. In a well written and illustrated article for the Wall Street Journal, Eric Bellman and Miho Inada discuss how looting has begun to rear it’s ugly head in Japan. According to the WSJ article, the Kirin Brewery in Sendai was hit once by the powerful tsunami and then again by hundreds of individuals seeking refreshment in the form of beer, coffee and juice.

Picture of empty Kirin beer crates. (Photo by Eric Bellman WSJ)Photo by Eric Bellman/ Wall Street Journal

According to the WSJ article, Makoto Igarashi, manager of the gas station across the street from the brewery states that people continued to come and take items that have spilled out into the streets and at one point were intercepted by security guards as they attempted to enter the grounds of the brewery. Some convenience stores in Ishinomaki (up the coast from Sendai) sustained damage as water pushed cars into the windows knocking items off the shelves, while others had their door pried open by desperate individuals seeking food and water.

There is apparent evidence of ATMs being burglarized for the cash inside and a self-service noodle shop in Sendai had its ticket machine forced open as well. Vehicles that had been flipped over by the massive tsunami had holes punched in the tanks by people seeking gas during the fuel shortage. According to the WSJ Nobuhiro Kato, Chief of the National Police Agency says that there have not been many reports of looting but he estimates that there may be dozens of incidents with many of them not being reported. Chief Kato, believed people may be ignoring such acts because many people have fallen on hard times. Chief Kato also said Tokyo and other prefectures will send more patrol cars to affected areas in order to curve future problems.

“If we keep ignoring such acts, the place is going to turn into a lawless area”

-Nobuhiro Kato (Chief of the National Police Agency)

Picture of a looted Japanese ATM (Photo by Eric Bellman WTJ)
Photo by Eric Bellman/ Wall Street Journal

Read the original Wall Street Jounal article here.

Read “Rumors of Looting in Sendai.”

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