Ganbaro Nihon: Where has the solidarity gone?

Honestly if the actual figures from a questionnaire from Nikkei Shimbun reflects the solidarity Japanese style, I am shocked and disappointed about the lack of involvement for fellow Japanese in need. The Great Eastern Japan earthquake shock the whole world and a rather large amount of donations was raised. Furthermore still many people from abroad and in Japan are active in helping others in need. Why am I so shocked? Simply because out of the 618 respondents to the Nikkei Shimbun questionnaire the most common amount given with 31% was between JPY 1001 and JPY 5000. Or what shall I say about the second rank of 29% with an amount of up to JPY 500!?

No plans to give money: 5%
up to JPY 500: 29%
JPY 501 to JPY 1000: 18%
JPY 1001 to JPY 5001: 31%
JPY 5001 to JPY 10,000: 9%
more than JPY 10,001: 8%

For those who wonder on how much I had personally given: It is for sure more than the top share. I do not have an explanation on why the size of the donation seem so shockingly low in Japan. My only hope is there is a not presented part in this overview of large share be personal direct involvements, volunteering or other non-financial support. It truly hurts my heart to see this figures.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

10 thoughts on “Ganbaro Nihon: Where has the solidarity gone?

  1. Maybe people responded more along the lines of how much they donated at one time?

    The most I donated at one time was Y5000 but I also donated loads of change and as much Y1000s as I could. I’m not really sure on the total either. So . . . maybe that affected the survey?

    • Dear Sarah,

      thank you so much for taking time to comment.

      I truly hope you are correct. The wording at the Nikkei Shimbun article was different, but still we can assume that the results were based on a misunderstanding.

      All the best,


  2. I think there are two reasons about them.

    One is that there isn’t a donation culture in Japan as you know.

    Second is that people doubt the organizations which receives donation how hard the organizations show their sincerity.

    Realistically, we need the fund for Tohoku area and rising tax.

    Of course Ganbaro nihon is important thing for everyone but we don’t have a idea what we should do or don’t have a power enough to help others.

    I believe that many people have a passion for Tohoku people in their mind.

    • Dear Cocomino,

      thank you very much for your time to comment. I truly, truly appreciate your openness.

      I agree that it is not so popular in Japan to donate money or time, but I think it is partially just an excuse not to be active. I did not grow up in an environment that promoted donation or volunteering at all. Still as an adult I start to feel that it is important no matter where I live to give back to society. It is a question of personal priorities perceived. I believe that Japanese are very considered within family and close friends, but stepping up to help someone not known might not be so common. I simply assumed knowing and seeing the extend on TV will help to move more Japanese into action.

      Secondly, I agree that there had been cases that the Japanese public had been fooled into giving to not serious companies (for example Green Cross Corporation 株式会社ミドリ十字). Because several companies truly have shady backgrounds, I believe it is worthwhile to research and get directly involved in good times (note my previous article on Second Harvest).

      Most important is now that we make sure that we give our best to increase the turnover and profit of the local companies. The Japanese economic outlook was not that good before the earthquake so our action to increase the GDP becomes even more important.

      All the best from sunny Tokyo,


        • Dear Cocomino,

          please do not misunderstand me, I am not here to tell you that you have to reconsider your actions. Everyone has different priorities in life and this is then simply shown in their action.

          All the best from gray and rainy Tokyo,


  3. That really is surprising as I’ve always seen the japanese as very solidary people, specially amongst themselves and in times of trouble.

    • Dear Paulo,

      thank you very much for your comment.

      I think the support for others depends as well on the resouces and training available. From what I have seen and heard about the Disney staff taking care of more than 20,000 stranded people for the night, I have to say I am awed. I cannot praise the staff of Disney land and Disney Sea enough, especially considering that 90% are not “normal” employees, but just contract workers. On the other hand, what I have seen at the airport in Narita that not many young women were able to handle the demand to function in a crisis (do not blame them it is natural).

      Additionally I think the “power of shoganai” in the Japanese culture helps to keep down the amount of complaints and acceptance for the unavoidable, but does not promote proactivity.

      As mentioned in the article above, I do not have the answer. I simply had an eye opener again that I am a foreigner and cannot understand all aspects of the Japanese.

      All the best,


  4. I wonder if in their mind they decided to give a lower amount based on the mass amounts of donations coming from abroad? What’s your thought on the reason?

    • Dear Elle Marie,

      I don’t think the foreign donation had much of an influence. The first few days after the earthquake I did not hear much on TV or radio about foreign donations, plus I would not expect Japanese to leave it solely to foreigners to help.
      I truly hope my reasoning is wrong, but it could come all down to be proactive or not. There could be more concern on the Japanese side on what is an appropriate action now than just go ahead and do something.

      Thanks for all your comments here!

      All the best,


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