Apple Japan Goes Above & Beyond During Crisis

| News

Apple Japan has been quietly going above and beyond during the earthquake and tsunami crisis engulfing the country, according to an unnamed employee at one of the company’s Japanese retail stores. By his tale, Apple kept its stores open for people to use its resources to check in with family, allowed employees and their family to stay at its store, and covered some transportation and lodging costs incurred by employees.

Said employee is friends with entrepreneur, blogger, and tech-maven Kevin Rose, and sent him an e-mail detailing some of what he saw during the crisis. With all of the hardship and tragedy Japan is dealing with right now, hearing about Apple’s quiet efforts to do right by its employees, customers, and non-customers is refreshing, to say the least.

“7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open,” the unnamed employee wrote. “Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email.”

Apple in Japan

He said that with a dearth of free WiFi access points in Japan, Apple’s retail stores are a frequent destination for Apple customers and non-customers looking to tap into a free connection to the Internet even when there’s not a crisis. “Even Android users often come to the stores,” he wrote.

Once the earthquake hit and transportation systems shut down in Tokyo, this five story Apple Store was swamped with people anxious to contact loved ones to check in or check on them.

“You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became,” he said.

With so many people flocking to the store, Apple’s employees brought out surge protectors and “10s of iOS device adapters” so that they could charge their iPhones and iPads and use them to Skype and FaceTime their loved ones.

“Even after we finally had to close 10:00 PM,” he wrote, “crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the WiFi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.”

He also noted that FaceTime performed better than Skype, though that’s an anecdotal report, but heaped praise on Apple’s services, Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s services for coming through for so many people in need.

In a follow-up e-mail he offered details about Apple letting employees and their family members stay in the safety of the Apple Stores, how management stocked up on food supplies immediately after the first quake hit, and how the company supported employees at both the retail and corporate level, and offered to pay for a variety of costs for employees trying to get home.

It’s a lengthy story, and there is much more than we quoted in our piece, and we encourage you to read it.

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It’s my opinion that charity is what you do just because it’s the right thing to do. Not to brag about or to get some kind of tax benefit, or to curry favour with someone in power. You just help where help is needed and then when the crisis is over go back to work.

That Apple is doing this is wonderful
That Apple is doing this without making a big deal out of it, not bragging on its web sites “hey look at what we’re doing” is part of the reason I respect Apple more than most other companies.

Image problem?

Just an observation,

Perhaps the altering of the Japanese War Flag is questionable? Would you have altered the Nazi flag if a similar situation happened in Germany?

I’m personally not offended, I think the flag is cool, but its pretty much as offensive in most of Asia (besides Japan, of course) as the Nazi flag is to most Westerners.

I understand that its still used as the ensign of the Japanese Navy, but the just begs the question of whether the Japanese Navy should be doing so.

Just my two bits.


@Image - interesting observation, pardon the pun.  Living in Japan, I don’t find the logo insulting.  But I do understand your point and perhaps a better logo would be more appropriate for folks whom are sensitive to it’s historical context.

Bryan Chaffin

The Japanese battle flag (war flag, the flag of Japan’s navy—I’m not positive about the precise name that should be applied to it) has a history before and after WWII (and before Japan’s aggression in Asia in the 19030’s prior to the period of time we deem “WWII” today).

And it’s still used today. 

There’s always someone who can be offended by just about anything we do, and I’m frankly comfy with this particular appropriation of a flag to illustrate a story.

Mind you, Japan’s national flag would have been technically more appropriate, but Apple’s logo on a white background wouldn’t have been recognizable (and it has most of the same connotations to anyone looking for a reason to be offended).


I still can’t comprehend the magnitude of everything facing Japan. Kudos to the store for doing right by not only their employees, but also the community. Thanks for sharing this glimmer of optimism and encouragement in the wake of such destruction, and continuing danger.

I hadn’t even thought about this aspect of the catastrophe. Please consider posting occasional Apple-related updates if you find enough info.

FTR, the dark border of the Apple logo would have still kept it visible on a white field, but nah, it wouldn’t have been as eye-catching.

Lee Dronick

The Japanese battle flag (war flag, the flag of Japan?s navy?I?m not positive about the precise name that should be applied to it)

I am the Navy guy here, maybe not the only one. Anyway the correct word for a nation’s flag flown from a ship is ensign.

I have been to Japan numerous times, I like the people, I like the Country. I am feeling for them.

Lee Dronick

Perhaps Something like this?

Looks good. You got me inspired, now I all I need to do is do it.

Lee Dronick

@geoduck Not as good a job as I would like, but check it out.


Nice. I like the way the Japan silhouette also gives the impression of a rip across the logo.

Mine was just 5 minutes doodling with Inkscape so thank you for the kind words.

Image again

@Brian- Current usage by the Japanese military has no bearing on whether a third party should alter it.

The Nazi flag also has history before German aggression in WW2. Both the Nazi flag and the Rising Sun flags were banned by the allies during WW2. The difference is that the Japanese went ahead and adopted it again for their self defense force in 1954. Imagine the uproar if Germany began re-using the Nazi flag for its military?

I think that if an Asian based website used the Nazi flag in a similar way, more than just someone would be upset.

The other options presented above are viable, as the it is the National Flag, not the War Ensign that is being modified.


Geoduck and Sir Harry ? nice jobs, guys!

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