Chinese Netizens Admire Japan’s Post-Earthquake Behavior

Elementary school children take cover under their desks as part of a nationwide earthquake drill at a Tokyo elementary school on September 1, 2010. People across Japan took part in the disaster drill to prepare for a major earthquake, on the anniversary of the massive 1923 earthquake which killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Elementary school children take cover under their desks as part of a nationwide earthquake drill at a Tokyo elementary school on September 1, 2010. People across Japan took part in the disaster drill to prepare for a major earthquake, on the anniversary of the massive 1923 earthquake which killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.    AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Here are several posts that are popular on China’s internet, repeatedly being posted and spread on many different Chinese internet discussion forums. The first post features several photographs and captions concerning the orderly reaction of Japanese people to the Tohoku (previously Sendai) earthquake and tsunami. The second post features a story of six childcare center teachers diligently protecting and staying with the little children entrusted to their care until their parents arrived to pick them up.

From Liba:

Sigh, the most important thing in the face of disaster is still character…

I won’t say anything.

“8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest earthquake in Japanese history”

In front of a public telephone booth, we can actually see this kind of scene.
"In front of a public telephone booth, we can actually see this kind of scene."
A stopped subway station, without an uproar, without a mess.
"A stopped subway station, without an uproar, without a mess."
The people proactively observe order, without only thinking of themselves.
"The people proactively observe order, without only thinking of themselves."
An ordinary school, a shelter for the people.
"An ordinary school, a shelter for the people."
Children and women get priority care.
"Children and women get priority care."
Transportation is paralyzed, people walking home, these are all "disaster victims".
"Transportation is paralyzed, people walking home, these are all 'disaster victims'."

Japanese people sitting on the sides of the stairs, ensuring that the center remains clear and accessible. This is the result of education, not something that can be obtained through GDP [alone].

Japanese people sitting on the sides of the stairs, ensuring that the center remains clear and accessible. This is the result of education, not something that can be obtained through GDP [alone]

Comments from Liba:


In China, I bet [people] would have immediately broken into and looted the surrounding convenience stores/supermarkets.


This time the cities weren’t that affected by the earthquake.

If you were in a place where an earthquake happened every few weeks, you too would be very calm.


I am again reminded of the 50 kuai per bowl of instant noodles from the time of the earthquake.


Can’t help but admire.


A tiny pellet of a country, with nothing [few resources], being able to beat the shit and piss out of Russia and China…is not without reasons…


This kind of character, is worthy of people’s respect.


First take care of yourself [in doing the proper thing], and there will be hope for this country.


In Japan, the cars yield to the people. In China, the cars can’t wait to run over your body, even if you have the green light and the car is making a turn.


Without bringing up anything else, on the character exhibited when fasting disaster, we really can’t compare.
Even when there is no disaster, for simply sitting in a seat or using the toilet, we’re capable of fighting and arguing over.


There’s nothing to say. Picks nose.


This character alone is worth us learning from.

annetta: (responding to sbh09)

After another 50 years, [we] still wouldn’t have caught up.


Seeing this, I’m actually quite a bit moved.


Nothing to be said~ It can only be said that this kind of moment only reveals their character even further~ This isn’t something that can be obtained through GDP alone~


I’ve been a fenqing before in the past, but it wasn’t until I went to Japan that I realized how one-sided I was, and that Japan indeed has many areas worth China learning from.


Their prime minister resigned for only taking several thousand RMB~~~ How can we compare to this? How can we learn from this?


I’m tearing up just looking at these.


Look at them, and then look at us.
If American again dares to say we are already a developed country, I suggest the Foreign Ministry show photos of the two country’s earthquakes side-by-side and I guarantee within the next 50 years they will not say it a second time.
Motherfucking developed your ass.


Japanese people’s character really are very high. Every time I go [to Japan] I am moved.

One thing that left a very deep impression with me was once when I was in Osaka and asked for directions at the entrance of the subway station. The ayi [auntie, lady] cleaning the elevator put down the things in her hands, tidied up, and placed them in a corner. Then she walked with me through most of the subway station until we arrived at where I wanted to go. Some of the subway station exits in Japan are very far from each other.
It was truly sincere enthusiasm/friendliness.

From KDS:

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The Japanese people’s behavior after the earthquake~ Seeing these photos I am amazed!

What a frightening nation, no wonder such a small country was able to invade China

Having suddenly suffered a 8.9 magnitude earthquake, and at the same time as I wish the Japanese the best, I must say that I have learned a lot from this disaster… After the earthquake, Japan’s Suntory company announced that all vending machines are free to use, just press the button and the drink will come out! Japan’s 7-11 and Family Mart are all providing food and drinks for free! And the images below, I am deeply amazed… This is the image of a country, without some meeting [referring to China’s recent “Two Meetings”]. Though Japan has suffered a disaster, the people of Japan have taught the world’s people a lesson.

[Same image as above]

Comments from KDS:


I’m thinking if this happened in the Heavenly Kingdom, would a lot of people have been trampled to death?


Look at Wenchuan and you’ll know.


They have drills several times a year, they even have earthquake precaution handbooks.


For fenqing, this kind of thing is really sad, [that] other people’s characters are indeed several levels higher than our own people’s/nation’s.

罗宾酱: (responding to mmx94)

This is true. In countries where earthquakes happen a lot, basically everyone knows how to take care of themselves.

But in certain places, we are indeed inferior to others, this must be admitted. Every year when we have disasters we put on a show, [but] of course that’s done just for the leaders’ to see.


During the Wenchuan Earthquake, there wasn’t mass chaos in Chengdu either.

Lou zhu can wait until Tokyo has a major earthquake and then see if there is a similar scene…


The FQ NC watch the Japan earthquake and applaud. Then when they see the disaster victims’ quick response and high characters, they are silent and pretend to ignore it. I want to say that the result of CCAV‘s daily serial dramas is very striking.

One more thing, people are paying more attention to Japan, but don’t forget that within the country Yunnan also had an earthquake. Everyone take a look at the earthquake magnitudes and the number of casualties.


The fenqing will tell you that no matter how civilized they appear on the outside, it cannot conceal the uncivilized nature of when they invaded China in the past.


I’ve always been curious how Japan developed such an orderly society.
And have always been anxious for when my own country can also be like this.


Social order in developed countries are all very good, where everyone is very aware and proactive. Look at America’s 911. This has nothing to do with training, it has everything to do with character.


Our behavior after the Wenchuan Earthquake wasn’t bad either!

More photos of the Japanese disaster:

A pedestrian road has collapsed in the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Urayasu city, Chiba prefecture on March 11, 2011. The earthquake shook Japan, unleashing powerful tsunamis that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

A collapsed building blocks the main street of central Kobe, on January 18, 1995 following the massive earthquake that rocked western Japan on January 17, 1995. The Hyogo-Ken Nabu Earthquake, the worst earthquake catastrophe in years, occurred on western Honshu Island early 1995 and more than 6000 people perished in the southern Hyogo prefecture, most in the city of Kobe, Japan's most important port. (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan. massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, unleashing a monster 10-metre high tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

In this photo released by Nexco East Japan, a worker inspects a caved-in section of the Joban Motorway near Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, after one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Japan slammed its eastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Nexco East Japan via kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES

A helmeted man walks past the rubbles and a burning building after a powerful earthquake, the largest in Japan's recorded history, slammed the eastern coasts in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, FOR COMMERCIAL USE ONLY IN NORTH AMERICA

From KDS & Liba:

Truly moved after seeing this, this is the difference [between us and them].

Reposted [from somewhere else]

My son is 2-years-old, attends a childcare center in Yokohama. The childcare center has a [web] camera, where one can use a mobile phone and the internet to immediately observe.

March 11, my mother-in-law checked on the grandson’s childcare center situation through the web camera on the internet, and saw the teachers surrounding the children in the center, time and time ago bending over using their bodies to protect the children.

At this time, my mother-in-law hadn’t yet learned that an 8.8 magnitude earthquake was happening in Japan, and thought they were yet again practicing disaster drills.

Afterward, the children were one by one picked up early [by parents].
A little after 17:00 [5:00pm], only my 2-year-old son and the teachers were left.
6 teachers surrounding my son, my son’s body covered with a blanket.
the teachers around him with blankets ready in their hands,
covering him the moment there was an earthquake [aftershock].

My mother-in-law thought this was interesting, and so took a screen shot of this scene.
Normally I pick up my son at 18:00 [6:00pm], but because traffic was paralyzed, by the time I walked 18 kilometers to the child care center, it was already 22:00 [10:00pm].
Throughout the entire time, the teachers were there constantly guarding over my son like this.
(At 19:00 [7:00pm], my mother-in-law learned that Japan had an earthquake, and watched [the childcare center’s web camera] continuously online.)

Teachers at a childcare center in Yokohama, Japan surround a child to protect him during the 2011 March Sendai Japan Earthquake disaster.

Comments from KDS:


Moving, I admire this, really eye-opening. A country mired in disaster, using strength, rationality, and cultivation, winning the respect of the entire world.


This kind of people are worthy of respecting. When all the the buildings collapsed during the Wenchuan earthquake, not a single Japanese building collapsed. [It was] 9.0 magnitude!! It was just there wasn’t anything that could be done about the tsunami.


6 “Fan bu paoteachers, protecting one 2-year-old Chinese child,
I feel really ashamed, because I still have a sense of shame. A paragon of virtue, one can well imagine what kind of students this kind of teacher would produce, one can well imagine what kind of people this kind of teacher would produce.
I thank these teachers. The glory of humanity is on display here. This photograph should become an eternal classic.

[During the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, a teacher surnamed Fan became infamous for running away first and leaving behind his students and was nicknamed “Fan Pao Pao” (Fan run run or “Runner Fan”). “Fan bu pao” therefore refers to a teacher who doesn’t run.]


"Something that is very normal in Japan, could be given a medal in China."
"Something that is very normal in Japan, could be given a medal in China."


Very great, very committed to one’s work.

I won’t say there aren’t these kind of teachers in China, but 6 of these kind of teachers beside a child at the same time…

A great country.


In the Heavenly Kingdom, not picking up on time is 5 kuai per hour.


Japan, Asia’s hope.


I also logged in just to ding this. China has this kind of individual, but what is worth admiring is this kind of mindset of theirs.


Even though I really dislike Little Japan

this kind of situation is indeed really admirable.

Little Japan has many many things worthy of us diligently learning from.


As for the Heavenly Kingdom, well… Let the leaders go first.

[Refers to a past incident in 1994 where hundreds of schoolchildren and teachers were killed in a theater fire because they were instructed to let the government officials escape first.]


In China, the teachers and leaders get away first.


This post indeed should be ding‘d, but I think even in China a teacher wouldn’t abandon a two-year-old child to flee themselves.

随便看看: (responding to 喜)

Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere?


Japanese people have a sense of crisis, stress collectivism, submit to discipline, these are things we should learn.


The mess in China is too large, there is still a very long very long road ahead if we want to catch up to them.

People using their mobile phones stand outside a building following a huge 8.8 magnitude quake to hit Japan in Tokyo on March 11, 2011. The huge earthquake shook Japan, unleashing a powerful tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns.  AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Comments from Liba:


Those people who curse Japanese people to early deaths, how come they don’t consider just how far behind we [the Chinese] are compared to them [the Japanese]?


[Good, high] character is not something that is achieved instantly [meaning it requires education and cultivation over time].


牛 Do these teachers not have any children at home or worries of their own? Continuously waiting until the very last child is smoothly handed over [to the parent]…
truly fills people with respect [towards them]. 牛


I really hope my child can meet such committed teachers. I commend them.


This is where the greatness of a people can be seen.


When everyone in a society believes protecting the women and children is a given, when it has nothing to do with being noble, that is when that society has become great.


Every individual’s social consciousness can contribute to making this country increasingly great.

Hope they can quickly make it through this disaster, and start their lives anew.


Hope no inharmonious, extreme, nationalistic voices will appear in this post. Wish the disaster victims the best, and together survive the hard times.


Although I dislike Japan, what cannot be denied is that they have so many areas that are better than us, and what more, are so much better. How could such a country not be great and powerful?


Why have so this many teachers stay to take care of just one child? To be more humane, they should allow the other teachers to go home to take care of their own children.

幸福的lydia: (responding to above)

Because as long as there is one child who hasn’t been picked up
work isn’t over for them.


Over there where they are there is something called trust.
Even though they give people the impression that they are a hypocritical people, it must be said that in the key moments, they are still very responsible.
A country in this moment that doesn’t descend into chaos and maintains order, truly a frightening but also awe-inspiring people/nation.

People stand outside a building following a huge 8.8 magnitude quake to hit Japan in Tokyo on March 11, 2011. The huge earthquake shook Japan, unleashing a powerful tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Frightening but also awe-inspiring. Personals @ chinaSMACK.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • mlgb

    I admire more the building standards.

    • Fauna

      I think we already translated several Chinese netizen comments about that too.

    • McCurry

      what is the building standards for your sofa?

    • guizi

      The standards is standard. Japanese culture is different.

      In Japanese history, there were and are always earthquake, fire, especially in Edo. So people have kept building rather cheap houses. Only in recent 20 years or so, people started to have better houses. Buildings are different though.

  • Fman

    Comments here seem more reasonable.

    • CHNinUSA

      yeah, they are different social classes in China, the more elite the more likely to see something like this(reasonable reaction). such as forum like Liba, KDS, Hi-pda, 163, nandu
      but you can hardly expect this in mop, baidu, tudou, youku.
      I think it is just like when you comparing youtube comments and NYT

      BTW, I also don’t see the chance that American people to behave as disciplined and calmed as Japanese if there were an earthquake like that. Maybe some well-educated and church people will, but many grass roots won’t. Can anyone tell as American if you admire this kind of behavior of Japanese as a nation ?

      • zagny

        Am an international of sorts – canadian, raised in HK, currently living in Israel – and i have to say that this is incredibly admirable and heart-warming. it would be amazing to see more images like this throughout the world.

      • zagny

        (ie yes, it is extremely, Extremely admirable)

      • dim mak

        During Katrina they had to send in the military to stop people from looting and shooting the rescue crews with their glocks. China has some selfish dicks, but at least we don’t go that far.

        • Jaze

          If guns were as readily available and legal in China as they are in the US, it’d be a different story. There’d probably be a shooting every rush hour.

        • Bo Wang

          Cops were caught on camera looting as well during Katrina. It is worthwhile to note that most looters during that disaster were black, including said cops.

          Before you comment to say that the above is totally unsubstantiated, non-PC remark, Google Image or Youtube: Katrina looters.

          @ CHNinUSA: Looting and uncivil behaviors are most likely to be perpetrated by the lower socio-economic classes, usually blacks and hispanics in urban America.

          • anon

            “Uncivil behaviors” are usually correlated with socio-economic status. In China, there just happens to be a lot of people of low socio-economic standing. In Japan, not so much.

            This is why economic development for China is the major part of developing the nation and its society to the standards many outsiders (particularly most of us Westerners on this site) take for granted. Poor people don’t give a shit about others because they’ve been socialized to stick with being busy giving a shit about themselves first. The economics must be there, and then it needs to be shaped by continuous public education, and each generation will usually be better than the last.

      • dim mak

        When I was younger I assumed stories about Japanese order were stereotypes. But having spent about a year there, I’m not sure how to describe. It’s like people innately expect each other to be nice. I’ve had discussions with many Japanese that had ridiculously idealistic views of society and the world, childlike visions of “community” and world peace and other moralism that would make the stankiest American hippie uncomfortable. You know, the kind of shit your kindergarten teacher taught you but you stopped believing when you turned 6. Except many of them still seriously believe it.

        One time in Japan I was out with some co-workers, and I got separated in a shopping area. I thought I’d catch up later, so I spent over an HOUR browsing and eating from the food court. To my surprise, the entire group was waiting for me at the rendezvous spot. No one was mad, they were actually relieved to see me. They all seemed to feel there was nothing remarkable about holding back 8 people just to wait an hour for some guy they barely knew. They thought it was perfectly natural, like I was a limb on their body or something. Very surreal group mentality.

        I dunno if it’s discipline or culture or what, but they have an different mindset that could be described as pure but also naive. Frankly if I acted like they did in China or even in my native Hong Kong people would probably gouge the shit out of me.

        • anon

          I just read a good article on Slate relating to why Japanese society may be more “civil”:

          Anyone who has seen Big Bird in Japan knows the shorthand for Japanese culture: They’re so honest and disciplined! They’re a collective society! They value the group over the individual! Of course they’re not going to steal anything after the most devastating natural disaster of their lifetimes—unlike those undisciplined thieves in post-Katrina New Orleans and post-earthquake Haiti. Even if they’re desperate for food, the Japanese will still wait in line for groceries.

          There’s a circularity to these cultural explanations, says Mark D. West, a professor at University of Michigan Law School: “Why don’t Japanese loot? Because it’s not in their culture. How is that culture defined? An absence of looting.” A better explanation may be structural factors: a robust system of laws that reinforce honesty, a strong police presence, and, ironically, active crime organizations.

          The circular reasoning of the “its cultural” (or more commonly, “racial”, “ethnic”, or “national”) argument is spot on…and applied to a lot of the bullshit that gets posted in the comments here.

          • Cerebus

            Bad news:

            Elderly patients left to die in hospital six miles from Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant


            Although I have to say a lot of British publications have the most sensationalistic headlines…

          • guizi

            I dont think the word collective is suitable. I heard several times that those from China and Korea feel lonely in Japan. They think that Japanese people are very individualistic, people relationship in Japan are not so strong as China and Korea. Japanese people dont invite them to their house, dont go out in groups so often, and so on. I think their observation is correct. If collectiveness is the key to the civilized behavior, Chinese and Koreans should have more civilized society. But unfortunately China is not such society right now.

          • guizi


            That report seems to be the result of confusion. Right now, I dont have enough info about this, but lots of information against first such reports have been appearing.

            It seems, Doctors and nurses spent with old patients for three days without any support. It seems the local government thought the hospital already was evacuated, so they did not send any buses to the hospital. Anyway, three days later self-defense forces came, but there were too many bed-ridden elderly patients and on wheelchairs, so they once more returned perhaps to get more buses or trucks. But they did not come to the hospital again. And the police ordered the staff to leave and they left. So, at this time the hospital became without any doctors and nurses. But after evacuation, the hospital staff tried to return with the self-defense forces. But they were unable to do so, because the area was a restricted area, so only the self-defense forces went to the hospital and found no doctors and nurses there. And media started to report that the hospital staff escaped with dying patients left.

            In this case, I think doctors should be able to go into the restricted area too. Rescue operation is to save life, so doctors must be in it. Stopping doctors to go into the hospital is ridiculous.

        • guizi

          > It’s like people innately expect each other to be nice.

          In china you have三字经 which says 人之初,性本善, or people are nice in the first place. Maybe Japanese people are actually Chinese. Anyway, honesty is the best policy, right? In whaling issues, there were almost no countries to support Japan in 1990’s, but now there are many who think Japan is right in this issue. I think living honestly is much better than to live in a world of lie.

          • me

            Japan adopted much of Chinese culture thousands of years ago and unlike China, preserved much of the ancient thought and culture.
            China’s culture got diluted starting with the Manchu invasion, up to the anarchic cultural revolution. How many Chinese today practice or even know about 人之初,性本善?

      • staylost

        American, born & bred.

        Although some of the older generation retains some war sentiment (family members who died in the war), even they think of the Japanese as a very special people. They are a conundrum due to their blend of extreme individualism and collectivism. We don’t always think they are right, nor would we think it wise to copy them in every way (what works for some countries fails in others).

        But one thing that must be shared in all great countries we do share:

        Act like you would want people in your society to act, or else you will end up like China. ;)

      • Wondering

        Yes, it is a real example of dedication and admiration. As an American who lived in NY State during 9/11, I would expect something similar here. I was EXTREMELY disappointed by Hurricane Katrina – the people behaved reasonably well, for the most part, but the government really let us down.

        I think Japan will clean up and rebuild quickly, but they are going to need a lot of help. That’s where we can all show our character.

        • Bob

          That’s because us NYers are better people than those Cajun miscreants!

          But seriously… The people of Mississippi and Alabama who had just as much damage done to their towns as New Orleans were more like the Japanese, or New Yorkers in their acts afterwords. But that doesn’t make for high ratings during a 24 hour news cycle.

          9/11 showed the world that New Yorkers can still be calm and collected during a tragedy…

          Katrina showed the world that poor people who are 3rd generation welfare recipients have a gimme-gimme-mine-mine attitude, and acted upon those instincts… Regardless of race.

          • Jones

            Another one to note is Galveston, TX, which was obliterated by a hurricane as well. Didn’t make as much news due to the more civil reaction of the Galveston populace compared to New Orleans.

    • me

      The certain percentage of narrow-minded people who disparage “little Japan” should note that it’s the size of people’s character that matter. A ‘big’ country doesn’t prove greatness if her large populace has small minds and hearts.

  • Samuel

    awesome article related to this topic, if anyone’s interested.

  • I’m European and I live in Ho Chi Minh City. It was striking for me also how the Japanese kept their utmost calm and respect when the calamities happened. The Vietnamese – probably the most chaotic and disorderly of all Asians – have a lot to learn from this. The Japanese still tried to save what was to be saved, the Viets would loot all.
    Most of all, it shows that EDUCATION IS WORTH every coin invested. No GDP will harvest that respect if there is no humanity and manners left.

    • Why do you think that Vietnamese are most chaotic Asians?

      • If you travel to Vietnam you will get your answer…

  • KopyKatKiller

    Strange to see the Chinese comments in awe of Japanese behavior… It’s simply civilized behavior. Chinese, with their so-called 5000 years of civilization, can’t even display this degree of civilness when using the metro!

    • CHNinUSA

      It’s a problem of education and personal wealth, And it is hard to change one’s behavior once they are grown up. You should notice it’s getter better now in China. I just remember in the time of 911, most of Chinese just cheered for that( I admit I was one of them, because I was in high school and get well brain washed then), but now more people learn to view the disaster from the perspective of we-are-all-human-beings, even some people hate Japanese but they give sympathy and encouragement to people in disaster.
      If you put all well-behaved Chinese together, that’s actually more people than most of countries.

      • Foreigner in China

        Yeah…the ratio of well-behaved Chinese compare to the rest of the Chinese population is like 1:1000000. Try to look very, very hard for a well-behaved Chinese in China.

    • pervertt

      It is also a question of social values. In Japan, the collective interest is put ahead of individual interest. This is not necessarily better or worse, but such values are definitely an asset in times of crisis. In contemporary China, the reverse arrangement appears to be in place. Self interest is often placed ahead of everything else. Altruistic behaviour, especially in urban areas, is seen as aberrant, a cause for amazement. The reasons why such self-interest is so widespread can be the subject of endless research, but I suspect limited opportunities, poor examples by community leaders, and the absence of social sanction (eg. common religious values) may have something to do with it. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but it will probably take at least 2 generations to see visible change.

    • Chris

      What’s more strange, is that good feelings from China gets twisted into some sort of insult against the Chinese. Apparently, we can’t even admire people anymore.

  • Pingback: Cracking my humour – Comments After the Japanese Earthquake | Gullible's Travels (Pretentious Version)()

  • kissmyass

    i am not sure this is something i would admired !!
    so well behave!!
    but lack of the passion and humanity!!! really depress for me !!!
    such disaster you should be able to scream out!!

  • McCurry

    As a Canadian, I have to say. I am quite impressed. I think Canadians will rise to the occasion as well

    • McCurry

      forgot to say that this leaves me no doubt that Japan will pull through this together as a country

  • DWR

    I love this website, but I thought the inclusion of the usual “personals @ CS” at the end of this post was a bit disrespectful.


    • Cerebus

      That there are a lot of frightening but awe-inspiring Japanese in chinaSMACK personals? Meh. Not only is that true, I think it was meant to echo a compliment made in one of the Chinese netizen comments that were translated.

      It’s not like it was a poem about the tsunami being some sort of divine retribution.

  • Cool Matt

    I am probably way off on this, but am I the only one noticing that there is not a sudden rise in unity and patriotism in Japan after the quake like there was after 9/11 in the States.

    Its almost as if Japanese were born with this strong feeling of togetherness that doesn’t have to be on display only after times of disaster. Just seems natural. obvious to them.

    • bomber

      The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

    • Bob

      You’re comparing a natural disaster (earthquake + tsunami) to an attack by an outside force (terrorists)

      If North Korea lobbed a nuke into Japan and cause a fraction of this damage, you would see the Japanese rise up.

      • donscarletti

        Last time they got nuked they surrendered unconditionally.

        • staylost

          That’s cold.

          And untrue.

          They were nuked twice before surrendering.

          And let’s not forget that out of all the people in the world Japanese people LEAST deserve a reputation for being willing to surrender. Where do you think the words banzai, kamikaze, seppuku, and harakiri come from anyway?

          • skepticanuck

            That’s also untrue. They offerred to surrender and then were nuked.

            US couldn’t have nukes and not use them.

          • staylost

            That is a supremely misleading statement, skeptic.

            The Japanese sought surrender through hidden means several times as long as the surrender was unconditional (allied powers would have little or no jurisdiction on the home islands). This had been rejected by the Allies long before, and they simply held their position of only accepting an unconditional surrender.

            The ‘atomic bomb committee’ then made the wrong decision then to advise the president that there was no other choice but to use the first atom bomb on a site of urban industry with residences in the blast area.

            It was also felt that using the atom bomb would end the war more quickly, preventing Stalin from swallowing up more territory before the Japanese inevitably unconditionally surrendered.

            The bombings that you may be referring to are these:

            The US had expressly asked that Japan announce its surrender in the clear. They did not. They instead sent coded statements of surrender through neutral European nations (which were decrypted and decoded and delivered to Washington DC by the US cryptography services). Therefore, bombing missions (no nukes, since the US didn’t have any more) continued after the US knew that Japan was surrendering, but before they received that news through an official channel.

          • staylost

            My first paragraph is missing an important “not” before “unconditional (allied powers…). I’m sure there are other grammar errors and I apologize.

        • holy sheet

          Not to mention the Japanese military dealt the Russian Navy, British Navy, and the US Marines the biggest defeat in their book. They are some tenacious somofmabitch.

          I think you should use the French for example of cowardice next time.

          • Rooboy

            Dont get me started on the French !!!!

  • Song of the Article

    Smoke on the Water – Fire in the Sky
    -Deep Purple


  • Evalin

    My, my, god’s temper

  • Andrew

    I wish the Chinese would figure this out. I’ve been studying in China for two years now. The Chinese call themselves the oldest and best civilization, but for some reason always need to be reminded to be civilized and 先下后上, or not act like pigs, or actually stand in line and wait your turn, or not pee on the floor in the men’s bathroom (again, in the name of civility). I’m glad they are looking towards the Japanese and appreciating their behavior, despite such a dire situation. They should; it’s not that hard to go about your day without shoving, cutting in line, spitting everywhere, and being just the least bit considerate to others.

    • Sunshine

      Those who call China the best civilization are simply blind.

      • me

        once upon a time until the mid-18th century, China was indeed a civilized nation admired by her neighboring countries. Like any civilization, it skidded downhill since the glory days. China is now picking herself up from the dust heap of history; renewing civilized behavior will take time.

  • Genxi

    I, too, have to admire the respect, honor, integrity, and order of Japanese people, which many of the Chinese people don’t have. I’m a Chinese American, and I suspect that my parents will be the first to loot all over the place just to keep themselves in good shape. Mao’s Cultural Revolution really screwed up the Chinese culture.

    • Why blaming on Mao’s Cultural Revolution? I find it quite annoying. Chinese were like that way long before Mao came to the power. Check out Lu Xun’s works regarding Chinese people and described how he’s horrified by Chinese people’s characteristics, for example, Lu Xun witnessed one Chinese guy nodded and laughed while Japanese insulted the Chinese guy.

      • Sunshine

        They need something to blame rather than to admit that they are this way by nature. Cultural Revolution seems to be the easiest target. Although I do have to agree that it was certainly a factor to some extent.

        • Genxi

          Being Chinese and AMERICAN, the nature to blame is certainly something I’ve been influenced since I was a child :)

        • anon

          I wouldn’t go so far as saying they are the way they are by nature. The capacity to be selfish is nature to all people, not just Chinese. What leads to widespread social tolerance of selfish behavior is nurture, not nature.

          Social behavior and norms are tied to socio-economic status. The reason why many Chinese have been like this long before Mao came to power is because many Chinese have been poor throughout history. Only with wealth do you begin cherishing and learning certain manners or civil behaviors. The wealthier classes throughout history have always been more “civil” while the peasants and underclasses have been looked down upon for how crude and uncouth they are.

          The extent to which the Cultural Revolution can be blamed is that it celebrated the peasant and lower classes while seeking to purge the educated and wealthy classes. This set back overall social development in the “civil behavior” department by killing all the potential role-models and influencers.

          The vast majority of society around the world has been “poor” throughout history. The Industrial Revolution helped create larger middle classes that brought with it a rise in social norms and civil behavior. China is undergoing that revolution now because it failed to in years past for one reason or another, sometimes due to their own choices and at other times because of what was done to them by others. Then length of Chinese civilization has no bearing upon this. Every society has and can face historical setbacks. It takes extended peace and prosperity, a stable environment, for normative behaviors to change and “improve”.

          China has to catch up, and it needs to avoid widespread social disruptions to do so. This has always been the case. It isn’t nature in this case. It’s nurture. China hasn’t had a very nurturing environment, so you still have a lot of very selfish “uncivil” behaviors as norms. If other people can get out of it with the right environment, so can China.

          • Genxi

            Anon, thanks for the unbias, intellectual summary. I’ll take it to my heart.

          • CHNinUSA

            One of the intellectual and reasonable reply ever. Thank you for interpreting the well-behavior=economic foundation + nurture

          • Sunshine

            But.. but.. I didn’t say Chinese were the only ones this way by nature? Please don’t put words in my mouth?
            The environment is a factor, yes, but honestly some people are just born this way.

          • Genxi

            Sunshine, may I ask who and what meanings was put in your mouth? Have your “implications” pit you to think such conclusion? Although I may not understand your words; however, most importantly, it is you who should care most of the answer deep within your heart and conscience.

          • Sunshine



          • Basma from Egypt

            Allah with China .. althought them earthquick , i like there achievements in all fields …. i like my country to be as them ..!!

          • Capt. WED

            ahhh thanks… That’s sort of what I wanted to say. I just remember when I was little I was told not to be be excessive and be civil to others. Don’t cut in line…don’t do this…don’t do that. The behavior of a lot of Chinese is not mainly because of something inherent with Chinese culture.

            Plus all the stuff people are saying about Asian collectivist culture etc. The way I see it, something can be attributed to that, but also don’t forgot human nature. The dynamics of HUMAN interaction has to be a key factor in this. That people everyo share similar life experiences through interacting with other human beings. By that, I don’t think there should be that much of a difference, culture customs aside… I mean it’s all you got parents, he’s got parents, he’s got neighbors, bosses… etc.

          • Chef Rocco

            I wanted to agree with you, but part of me feel uncomfortable with your overtone of elitism. In a nutshell, civility and manners are not equal to consciousness. Some poor peasants may look rude and uncivil, but they may risk their lives to save strangers from dangers while educated and rich people may feel indifferent under same situation.

            I admit that CR is disastrous, but I believe one of motives of Mao was seeking for social equality and anti-elitism.

          • Genxi

            Sunshine, it’s alright; avoidance is always a good solution, eh?

          • Sunshine

            LOL wow.
            I’m not trying to avoid any thing.
            I didn’t get what your last reply was asking of me. Maybe you can try to word it better, otherwise stop assuming shit from nothing?? I know you were trying to submask your little opinion of me in a sarcastic way. Don’t. It makes you seem like a douchebag.

  • Vivian

    Let’s keep the families that were involved with this natural disaster and Japan in our prayers <3 They need it the most as of now; as they were with us after Hurricane Katrina.

  • Jess

    The kids metal desks look very strong, they should have these in the Sichuan schools.

    • BigBadBoy

      I’m not sure what the people in Japan are taught about this but to me, getting under a desk would seem pretty silly!
      The reason, if anything lands on it, at any angle, you are likely to get ‘crushed’…as the force is transferred down…and a large table increases the surface area on which things can land on compared to a human body!

      Most collapsed buildings form ‘angles’ in the rubble, usually falling into the centre (mid span) but keeping ‘upright’ at the edges – so the ‘safest’ method would be to roll into a ball (foetal position) to take as little space as you can along a wall.

      I guess it depends on the ‘size’ of the earthquake…maybe in situations where things ‘fall but don’t collapse’, which is probably common in Japan, under the table might be the safest option.

      Hope I don’t get in the situation where I have a spit-second to decide!

      • anon

        Hiding under the desk has been a mainstay of earthquake response education for a long time. The idea is that the desk is much stronger than your soft flesh or your spine, offering your some protection from falling objects and even the roof. An alternative, depending on where you are when the earthquake hits, is in a doorway, because like you say, the vertical wall is less likely to collapse compared to the unsupported suspended ceiling.

  • fouManChu

    I have a question for all you studied asia-philes. I have always thought the collectivism in asian culture was due to the co-operation required in growing rice and that it became ingrained in the culture over time. Is this supposition true? If so, what accounts for the differences between rice growing cultures today?

    • Jaze

      I have never heard that before. The collective mentality is largely due to the spread of Confucianism and Buddhist ideals. The idea of acting in the greater good has morphed into acting in the greater good for the greatness of one’s culture and country. Asians are like crabs in a barrel.

    • Jess

      Oh! I get it! “Ingrained”~
      But I’d put that one down to Confucianism, really. Especially considering that only a relatively small percentage of China actually grows rice. Rice only became widespread in Northern China a little more than a hundred years ago. Before that, they’d likely never eat it, and they still can’t/don’t grow it anywhere Shandong northwards.

    • Sunshine

      Lol @ you guys taking him seriously…???

      • Joe

        I believe that was a conjecture put forth by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers or one of his other books.

        • Sunshine

          Well then, hit me with my ignorance.

    • holy sheet


      In the spirit of your question above, what does milking cows and curing cheese has to do with individualism in European cultures?

      get it? cheese and cultures? haha.

      I don’t think there’s a relation between growing rice and collectivism, if so, the soviets should have made all of their people rice farmers from the get-go.

      • fouManChu

        Ok, I see some people think I was trolling. Originally the common ancestors of the chinese and japanese were hunter/gatherers. Every hunter/gatherer society has two common values: one is mutalism, if I have a successful hunt I will share because tomorrow I might be injured or unlucky. The other value is a kind of anti-materialism. Hunters have to be nomadic otherwise they deplete the local game resource, that means they don’t want to carry piles of useless crap.

        As I understand it, wet rice cultivation (irrigated fields) started in the Yangtze valley and later spread to Japan some 200-300 B.C. More than other staples this form of cultivation requires tremendous labour and village level organization. I would expect the culture to reflect the millennia of doing this. Don’t confuse bottom-up functional cooperation with top down ideological forced collectivization, they similar in name only.

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  • Del RJH

    I’m deeply sympathy to their lost ones and also amazed that they are very calm and organize while handling this type of situation. If this ever happens in my country, you will see a lot of rioting, stealing…etc. The only thing that I dislike about my country was the First Lady gave negative comments towards Japan. To me, we should learn something about them, their systems are good.

    • Bo Wang

      First Lady of what country? Also, what were the comments? Link please.

      • Del RJH

        I’m trying to find that video with subtitles cos that video was in local language so most of you might not be able to understand.

  • qqqqq

    all this says to me is that the japanese don’t care about their people. how can they be so calm and nonchalant during something like this??

  • manusan

    if earthquake in Japan, the safetiest place are schools. if earthquake in China (Sichuan), safetiest place are gouvernment building.

    I can’t imagine in case of real strong economic crisis.

  • B-real

    Japan kicks ass in this area. Large earth quakes are considered a national natural event. Which means every measure is taken to ensure the proper municipal aid is administered where needed. The Japanese people understand that concept that they are not the only fuckers living there.

    Its like in the States when an Emergency vehicle hits the sirens. People automatically try to get out of the way to let them thru. But as I sit here and type this in Beijing sirens just blare and if its not an audi with a bull horn telling these people to get the fuck out of the way is out of this world. It could be thei home on fire, their mother in that ambulance, someone is on stabbing spree at their next destination.

    China needs some serious education from the schools so that the next generation can teach their children compassion for the fellow man.

  • John Wayne

    I feel so sad for the people that suffered and that are still suffering waiting for rescue staff to find them and save them.

  • BR

    well, of course they behave well, they are north asians. compare this to the american negroes during hurricane katrina who “looted the essentials” in order to stay alive during the crisis. The fact that the “essentials” included expensive athletic shoes, plasma TVs and expensive beer and liquor didn’t seem to be an issue with their apologists.

  • Meh

    I like how there were many stupid comments from the Chinese on the previous article and now these are completely different. I laughed a little.

  • Foreign Devil

    But I wonder if they will rebuild as fast and China did in Wenchuan? Of course the scale of devastation is much smaller, but Wenchuan has already been rebuilt into a tourist theme park village. With fountains, museums etc. . I was there visiting just a few months ago. You could still see where the sides of mountains had collapsed.

  • holy sheet

    Much admiration for the Japanese character in the face of catastrophe.

    Kudos to the Chinese for this sober self reflection.

    There is hope.

    China and Japan unite!

    Anyone saying otherwise, FUCK OFF!


    • dim mak

      One of these days… Glorious Asian unity ;_;

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  • finishguru

    well the article tells everything, I have got 6 Chinese friends studying with me here in Finland . Today i got a huge sock . story goes… there were redcross people at the school they were telling us what happened in japan and how people can help in a different ways .all the students agreed to help but I saw those chinese were talking something on their own language while the teacher and redcross people were still there.I later realized that actually they were talking about not to help physically or financially, they didnt sign up for redcross program for Japan , they didnt donate any money ….strange, later I asked to this chinese gal why not ? she said clearly she doesnt like to help japanese . I was so socked how human can think other human in such way unfortunately i dont have answer . after all this I came home and try to search about china and japan things and found this site .I am not against any chinese or any human jus writing here how i felt today . one more interesting thing all 6 chinese are quite educated ,
    one is former lawyer one is economist others have bachelor degrees and migrated here in finland.

    • david le

      To finishguru
      I agreed with you . I have one colleage who is Chinese ( I am Vietnamese Canadian ) . When heard about Japan diaster , he even showed happy and said : it deserved them . I was upset about his cold blood and said : you hated the Japanese caused to your country and said it deserved them . How about your more terrible cruel country done to the other neighboring small countries . I hate your Chinese a lot , but if something happen to your country and your people , I feel unhapply , and if your country has something good , I will admire . Any way , no country has all bad people , just the governments are bad . And we need to be good and fair in the world
      To all Chinese , open your eyes and your heart to really feel the suffering and misery your country have been done to the other people from the other countries . We , Vietnamses , as well as other small countries , really suffered the most terrrilbe things human being could ever experienced under your country ‘ s invasion. But now your country still want to control Vietnam and other countries .
      I do not know when your Chinese can understand all this . They are of a big country . Their history were only full of internal wars and invading & controling the other countries ( they get used to it and consider it as normal ) , but only suffered from the foreiner and Japanese in the short time of world war II . However keep that so tight , so well that make them become cold blooded people , very unfair and cruel .
      Wish all of you born in small country and have bad big country nearby , you will understand .
      Change your mind , your heart , please .

  • david le

    To amnesia
    you said that you & the Chinese can not forget uncivilized things of the Japanese in world war II . How about all cruel , uncivilized , crazy things the Chinese have been done to the other small countries , such as : Viet Nam , Korean , Tibet ( eventhough they invaded and declared as their lands ) . The Chinese have been causing much much more miserable and destructive things to other countries than the Japanese caused to China . Please , caring , good and fair to the other countries . Do not be just care and good to your country .
    Think about what your Chinese have been done to other countries before blaming the Japanese . If your Chinese hate the Japanese 100 , our Vietnamese hate your Chinese million , billion because of your cruelty , greed , uncivilization , craziness , that make our people suffering a lot , a lot .

    • Foreign Devil

      People born in China do not think China has done anything negative to any of the small countries around it. They are completely brainwashed relative to their history. In fact they believe they’ve done all the surrounding countries great favors and helped them to progress and become more “civilized” like the Han Chinese are.

      • Capt. WED

        I agree with you on this. Not trying to hate on you.

    • Meh

      I agree aswell. No offense to China but they can be really ridiculous ( as can the rest of us. ).

      • 吴兰

        Agreed. As one of my best Chinese friends put it: “If any Chinese ever tells you we are a peace-loving nation, don’t believe them. We have just had enough time to first – eliminate and/or intimidate, then – incorporate all our former enemies.” There is nothing true than his words.

    • chika

      thank you.

      We (Japanese) loves you, and Vietnamese !

      From Japan

      • Follie

        love from singapore, america and taiwan!

  • Dah
  • Jay

    I’ve lived in both China and Japan. I like both peoples but I have to say the Japanese are more considerate in public. I don’t know why this is or whether they have always been this way – but I like it!

    • sinθ

      The death toll exceeds 10000, and people only donated 709 million, very little compared to other earthquakes

  • Hoa H. Nguyen

    I am Vietnamese Canadian .
    I and all Vietnamese pray for the Japanese . We love the Japanese . They are good people . Nowadays , They help our country and other countries a lot and contribute a great deal to world charities and activities . They are fair , respect justice & law , no corruption , no showing arrogance , no threatening and trying to control the other countries .
    This is opposite comletely to big China , who always cause troubles and cruel things in order to get control the other countries , and not much contribute to world as a big country should do .
    all bad mouths of the Chinese ( unfortunately, it is majority ) to blame the Japanese for wrongdoing in the past and say karma to the Japanese should shut up .

  • guizi

    The photo of a building collapsing onto the road is the one from Kobe earthquake.

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  • me

    North American impression of Japanese is that they are selfish and self-indulgent. The whale hunting and depleting of the ocean’s endangered species is unspeakable.

    • sai

      north america??
      Canada has been hunting baby seals.America was taking a whale in Alaska, until recently.

    • Danny

      bullshit, Many americans and people in the world love the japanese. Also north America is more fucked up than japan. So get lost racist

  • burntmetal

    I’m proud that my fellow Chinese are willing to be honest and take a good hard look at themselves. To be fair, not only the Chinese lag behind the Japanese but the rest of the world as well because the Japanese showed exceptionally high character. The whole world can learn from them.

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  • chinasmack
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