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Japanese Calm Awes World

Yukie Ito, (L) tries to comfort her daughter Hana,8, (C) with grandmother Tam...

Photo by Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Above: Yukie Ito, (L) tries to comfort her daughter Hana,8, (C) with grandmother Tamiyo (R) at a cold refugee center for the homeless March 16, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi province, Japan.


No reports of looting despite water, food and electricity shortages.

It would be understandable if amid the geological upheaval in Japan, there was emotional turmoil if fear of nuclear meltdowns caused societal breakdowns. But the Japanese are dealing with disaster with dignity. An ex-Navy man in San Diego said the stoicism is part of the culture.

Video of washed away homes and vehicles floating in the ocean continue to awe the world. But what we have not seen is almost as notable. Despite dire shortages of food, water and electricity in some areas, there is no panic and no looting.

Gerry Garmon had tours of duty in Japan on the San Diego-based USS Midway in the 1970s.

The Japanese have a long tradition of calm in the face of calamity, he said, as witnessed in World War II when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on their country.

“They were a country that was virtually destroyed," Garmon said. "They’ve seen themselves through that. This is probably not on the same scale but it is very telling that they seem to have a calm assuredness that they can win out.”

That sense of perseverance has seen the Japanese through a long succession of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries. Each time, Garmon said, they have rebuilt a better country.

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