A question was asked during the coverage of the Japan disaster: why have we not seen any of the chaotic looting and crime in Japan that we saw after Katrina and in Haiti, as well as in many other post-disaster scenarios?
The answer given was that Japanese society and Japanese character is based on honor and to loot or in any way take advantage of those who were affected by the disaster would cause shame and a loss of dignity. Others called it stoicism.
I found this in the wiki for stoicism:
The idea was to be free of suffering through apatheia (Greek: ἀπάθεια) or peace of mind (literally,’without passion’), where peace of mind was understood in the ancient sense—being objective or having “clear judgment” and the maintenance of equanimity in the face of life’s highs and lows.
Stoicism in modern usage has taken on a different meaning, that of repressing or denying emotion, but really the true sense is that of conquering it or channeling it into clarity rather than letting it rule us.
How heart-wrenching the images are but indeed one sees face after face showing such impressive strength, even in their mourning and their fearfulness, when faced with this unimaginable tragedy which continues to unfold. Living through tragedy brings people together in ways unexpected, but it also reveals the truth within.