Genes, Not "Culture"—Why the Japanese Don't Loot

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 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. When Ed West in the London Daily Telegraph wrote a brief article asking why the Japanese weren't rioting, he got nearly 4,000 comments in three days—and not very many were about culture. [Why is there no looting in Japan? – Telegraph Blogs](The number of comments has begun to shrink as the Daily Telegraph deletes the ones it doesn't like.)

Commenters generally had two explanations: (1) There must be something about the genetics of the Japanese, and (2) they benefit from homogeneity.

A few days ago, I wrote on my website American Renaissance that the main thing that keeps the Japanese from looting is the fact that they are not black, but that was flip. The question deserves a longer answer.

I am certainly as willing as Daily Telegraph readers to credit genes and homogeneity for all manner of good things, but the experts may not be completely wrong about "culture", either. It is conceivable that others could acquire some of the traits that help the Japanese deal with a crisis. Let us consider genes, homogeneity, and culture, each in turn.

The crucial genetic contribution to the exemplary behavior of the Japanese is intelligence. Liberals like to pretend that, even if there really is such a thing as intelligence, it has no moral value, and people of low intelligence can be just as "good" as smart people. But, as Michael Levin (Why Race Matters, New Century Books, 2005) and others have pointed out, this is not true. High intelligence is invariably associated with greater law-abidingness.

Crime experts such as James Q. Wilson note that it has long been known that criminals have sub-normal IQs. Despite the impression we get from trials of high-profile stock fraudsters and pyramid-scheme bandits, sub-normal IQ is the norm even for white collar crimes such as fraud and forgery.

Low intelligence is associated with a limited ability to conceive of the pain or loss of others and an unwillingness to sacrifice today for benefits tomorrow. These traits are central to the smash-and-grab mentality both of common criminals and post-disaster looters (who are often the same people). A high-IQ society—and Japan's average IQ of 103 to 105 puts it at the top of the world ranking (Richard Lynn, Race Differences in Intelligence, 2006)—tends to be a low-crime society. Such societies stay true to form even when the forces of order are paralyzed by a natural disaster.

Different national groups also have what could be called an "average personality" in addition to an average IQ. Though personality is less intensively studied than intelligence, traits other than intelligence contribute to group differences. In The Bell Curve, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray found marked group differences in rates of crime, illegitimacy, poverty, and professional achievement even after controlling for IQ. A black with an IQ of 115, for example, is more likely than a white of the same IQ to be behind bars or have an illegitimate child. And a white is more likely to be in those predicaments than an Asian of the same intelligence. IQ explains a lot, but doesn't explain everything.

Richard Lynn has found consistent racial differences in the distribution of psychopathic personality as measured by standard tests. For example, US scores on the Psychopathic Deviate Scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) show a consistent pattern: blacks highest, American Indians next, whites at the mid-range, and Japanese and Chinese lowest. [Race and Psychopathic Personality, American Renaissance, July 2002]

Japanese therefore have a very favorable combination of genetic traits: a high average intelligence, combined with a low incidence of personality factors associated with crime.

As for homogeneity, the comments to article about looting at the Telegraph show that ordinary people are not fooled by fashionable rubbish about diversity being strength. And, again, their intuitions are correct.

In what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive study of the subject, Tatu Vanhanen of Finland finds correlations of 0.6 to0 .9 between population diversity and sectarian violence. (Tatu Vanhanen, Ethnic Conflicts Explained by Ethnic Nepotism, JAI Press, 1999.) Mixed societies like Lebanon, Sudan, and the former Yugoslavia have chronic tension; homogeneous ones like Iceland, Japan, and Korea do not.

Occasionally, people who are not even VDARE.com writers suggest that this rule could apply to the United States. Roberto Suro [Email him] of the Pew Hispanic Trust has noted that as many Hispanics as blacks rioted in Los Angeles in 1992 after the verdict in the Rodney King beating trial. Why? "To most [Hispanic] people here, this is still a foreign place that belongs to someone else" [Roberto Suro, Strangers Among Us: How Latino Immigration is Transforming America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 225.] In a multi-culti society, some people inevitably feel like outsiders—and behave that way.

No matter whom the country belongs to, people have more trust and sympathy for people like themselves than they do for people who are different. In the Moscow subway system, Russian beggars get the most money from fellow Russians while Central Asian beggars get money from other Central Asians. In Florida, older whites are reluctant to pay taxes for schools that are educating mostly black and Hispanic children, whereas in Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia, older whites are happy to pay for the education of people who are, racially and often literally, their own grandchildren. [Eduardo Porter, The Divisions That Tighten the Purse Strings, New York Times, April 29, 2007.] This quite expression of racial solidarity is so well established, it even has a name: the Florida effect.

"Diversity" is a source of conflict and tension, not strength, and the Japanese know it. Thanks to very restrictive immigration, Japan is one of the most homogeneous nations on earth. Its people know that the country belongs to all of them, and they treat it and each other that way. If Japan had let in just a few of the Iraqis and Pakistanis who would love to come, there would not be as many admiring accounts of post-earthquake endurance and self-control.

Let us not forget that even the well-behaved Japanese can run amok in the face of diversity. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 killed more than 100,000 people, rumors spread that resident Koreans were looting and setting fires. The Japanese considered the Koreans expendable colonial rabble, and murdered an estimated 6,000.

Likewise, during the Second World War, Japanese brutalized prisoners and enemy civilians. 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.

So where does culture take over from heredity and homogeneity? That is hard to say. If there were a homogeneous population of Japanese that had been living away from Japan long enough to have lost many of the cultural qualities we think of "Japanese", it would be possible to make instructive comparisons about crime rates and social cohesion.

One test population: Japanese Americans, who are famous for low crime rates, high academic achievement, low illegitimacy rates, etc., even after they have been here for generations. Although they live in America, where certain groups are well known for rioting and looting, it is not hard to imagine Japanese Americans behaving almost exactly like the Japanese in Japan—even if they left so long ago that they no longer speak Japanese and are indifferent to the Emperor. Something about being Japanese has survived.

Perhaps an even better example: Japanese who emigrated to Brazil and then came back to Japan in the 1990s. The largest number left Japan between 1906 and 1941, and many went as plantation laborers. Most of those who returned had forgotten their Japanese, and they have had a rocky time trying to reintegrate. Native Japanese consider them dim, crime-prone, unreliable, and no longer really Japanese. With high unemployment in Japan, the government has actually started offering to pay their way back to Brazil. [Sun Sets on Migrants' Japanese Dreams, by Lindsay Whipp and Jonathan Wheatley, Financial Times (London), August 26, 2009]

According to official statistics, Japanese-Brazilian crime rates are indeed about 20 percent higher than that of natives. But is that a lot or a little? It depends on your point of view. In a country with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, 20 percent might seem like a lot. However, in the United States, crime rates can vary by race by as much as 1,000 percent (in the case of blacks and whites or blacks and Asians) [Color Of Crime, 2005(PDF)]. There can even be big regional differences even within the same race. Whites in Texas are several times more likely to be locked up than whites in Minnesota. In the US, a 20 percentage point difference would hardly be noticeable.

What accounts for the difference? Is it because Brazilian-Japanese were lower-class laborers before they left Japan, and would be more crime prone even if they had stayed? Is it because they don't speak Japanese, face discrimination, and have bad jobs? Or is it because they picked up Brazil's inferior culture? It's hard to disentangle all this, but there does seem to be something about the Japanese—even poor, unpromising ones—that runs deeper than culture.

It is also possible to compare the Japanese with other Asian populations. For example, the geneticist Luigi Cavalli-Sforza finds that the population most closely related to the Japanese is the Koreans, even though the genetic distance between the two groups is about the same as that between Italians and Basques, whom we hardly think of as identical peoples.[See table.]

In many ways Koreans—and Korean Americans—behave a lot like Japanese: low crime, high achievement. The Japanese think of Koreans—there's a small expatriate population of Koreans in Japan--as more individualistic than themselves and less respectful of authority. They have a saying that because Japanese work together better, any 10 Japanese can whip any 10 Koreans but you never know the outcome of a one-on-one contest. Korean murder rates are higher than in Japan, but assault rates are lower.. The long-established 600,000-strong Korean minority in Japan actually has lower crime rates than the host Japanese. So the genetic similarity is accompanied by a similarity of behavior. And whatever the genetic or cultural differences between Japanese and Koreans, I suspect Koreans would be almost as well behaved as Japanese in the wake of a disaster.

It is current PC dogma, of course, to assume that all people, everywhere in the world, are different only in superficial ways, and that in the same environment all people would act the same. However, there is not the slightest evidence for this. Africans tend to behave like Africans wherever they are, no matter how long they have been there. And the same is true for North Asians.

The evidence even suggests that different human cultures are rooted deeply in biological differences. People obviously change in different environments. Japanese who emigrate to Brazil speak Portuguese rather than Japanese, but there is something about their essential nature that appears to persist. For the same reasons, most populations could live in Japan for generations and not behave as the Japanese do.

But don't expect to hear anything about this from the Main Stream Media "experts".

Altogether now: if the Japanese do not loot, it is only because they were lucky enough to get a "good" culture!

Jared Taylor (email him) is editor of American Renaissance and the author of Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. (For Peter Brimelow's review, click here.) The long-awaited sequel, White Identity: Racial Consciousness In The 21st Century, will be published this year.