Very interesting piece. I always suspected this is something stemmed from innate racism toward the Middle Eastern / Muslim people. But this assumption couldn’t explain the empathy gap toward victims of massive earthquake, between which happened in Japan and which happened in elsewhere, say Pakistan or Nepal. It turns out it is due to how people can relate themselves to the concerned ones, and this gap comes from the difference in positive interactions toward its people and culture, mostly through media.
Still, I would say, it is important to make clear what creates this difference in media coverage. I do believe some sort of prejudice is still working, as it’s reasonable to say media strives to report something that audience wants to hear. Not to mention it requires tremendous amount of effort to reveal (Orientalism, anti-Semitism etc) and eradicate this prejudice from public mind.