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The kanji of the year (今年の漢字, Kotoshi no kanji) is a Japanese character chosen by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society (財団法人日本漢字能力検定協会, Zaidan hōjin Nihon Kanji Nōryoku kentei kyōkai) through a national ballot in Japan, starting in 1995. The character with the most votes, selected to represent the events of that year, is announced in a ceremony on December 12 (Kanji Day) at Kiyomizu Temple.

Year Kanji Readings Meanings Events
1995
[1]
shin
furu-u
quake
The Great Hanshin–Awaji earthquake and growing feelings of unease caused by the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
1996
shoku
ku-u
food, eat
Multiple outbreaks of food poisoning due to E. coli O157 occur, affecting school lunch programs.
1997
tou
tao-su
collapse, knock down
The 1997 Asian financial crisis results in a wave of corporate bankruptcies and bank failures, while the Japanese team beats regional powerhouses in the Asia qualifying tournament to win a berth in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
1998
doku
poison
Sixty-seven people are sickened and four die after eating poisoned curry, for which Masumi Hayashi is arrested. Similar incidents follow amid concerns about dioxins.
1999
matsu
sue
end
The final year of the century, when the Tokaimura nuclear accident occurs.
2000
kin
kane
gold
Judo athlete Ryoko Tamura (now Ryoko Tani) and marathon-runner Naoko Takahashi win gold at the Sydney Olympics, Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong-il hold the first North-South Korean presidential summit, the deaths of centenarian twin sisters Kin-san and Gin-san (whose names sound like "gold" and "silver"), and the introduction of the ¥2,000 note.
2001
sen
tataka-u
battle
The September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and the global recession.
2002
ki
kae-ru
return
Japan and North Korea begin talks and five Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea return to Japan.
2003
ko
tora
tiger
The Hanshin Tigers win the Central League pennant for the first time in 18 years and the involvement of the Japan Self-Defense Force in the Iraq War, which the people equate to "stepping on a tiger's tail."
2004
sai
wazawa-i
disaster
The Chūetsu earthquake, Typhoon Tokage wrecks great damages upon landfall, the accident at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant, and scandal at Mitsubishi Motors involving the cover-up of known defects.
2005
ai
ito-shii
love
Expo 2005 is held in Aichi, Princess Nori marries Yoshiki Kuroda, and table tennis athlete Ai Fukuhara plays in China, as well as a spate of child-by-parent and parent-by-child murders.
2006
mei
inochi
life
Prince Hisahito of Akishino is born, while feelings of uncertainty about life arise from hit and run accidents due to driving under the influence, suicide due to bullying, and the notable suicide of a member of the Imperial Guard.
2007
gi
nise
deception
A series of food labeling scandals in which expired products were relabeled and sold, problems over political funds and faulty pension records, and allegations of copyright infringement at the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park.
2008
hen
kawa-ru
change
Changing of the Japanese prime minister, Barack Obama winning the American presidency using the slogan "change", economical and ecological changes around the world.
2009
shin
atara-shii
new
The Democratic Party of Japan is swept into power by lower house elections to end half a century of LDP dominance, the worldwide outbreak of swine flu (known as Shin-gata influenza), and Ichiro Suzuki sets a new MLB record with nine consecutive seasons with 200 hits.[2]
2010
sho
atsu-i
hot
Record heatwaves affecting both people's livelihoods and the natural environment and the Chilean mine collapse trapped about 700 meters underground in a hot, humid mine.
2011
[3]
han
kizuna
bonds
The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurs, with people across Japan rediscovering the importance of their bonds with family and friends and Japan's women's national football team, Nadeshiko Japan, wins the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, a result of confidence and teamwork among its members.[4]
2012
kin
kane
gold
Several medals are won at the 2012 London Olympics, Shinya Yamanaka wins a Nobel Prize, and a solar eclipse is observed for the first time in Japan in 932 years, amid concerns such as consumption tax and welfare ("金" is also the first kanji to be selected more than once).
2013
rin
wa
wheel, ring
Successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. (the original Japanese word for "Olympics" is 五輪, literally meaning "five rings")
2014
zei
mitsugi
tax
Social discussion and additional expense tax in Japan. (VAT switching from 5% to 8%)
2015
[5]
an
yasu
safety
Safety (安全) issues concerning explosion in Yasukuni Shrine, terrorist attack on Paris, and the public outcry at the new State Secrecy Law devised by prime minister Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三)
2016
[6]
kin
kane
gold
High number of gold medals won at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the shift to minus interest (“interest rate” is “kinri” in Japanese), Trump’s U.S. presidential election victory (“blonde hair” is “kinpatsu”), and Piko Taro, singer of ‘PPAP’, who’s known for wearing a gold-colored animal print outfit. (This is the third time this kanji has taken this honor.)
2017
[7]
hoku
kita
north
North Korea's missile tests and nuclear test, the heavy rain in northern Kyushu, and the poor harvest of potatoes in Hokkaido.
2018
sai
wazawa-i
disaster
The 2018 Osaka earthquake along with the heavy floods in southwestern Japan. This Kanji was also selected in 2004 as Kanji of the Year.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "過去の「今年の漢字」一覧". Matome.Naver.jp. 2015-12-16.
  2. ^ ""Shin" Selected as Kanji of the Year New Administration, Record-Breaking Ichiro Suzuki..." Kyoto Shimbun. 2009-12-11.
  3. ^ "2011年の漢字は「絆」 「災」「助」など続く". Nikkei News. 2011-12-12.
  4. ^ "Japanese public chooses 'kizuna' as kanji of 2011". BBC News online. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  5. ^ "今年の漢字、2015年は"安"に決定。とにかく明るい安村も興奮「安心の安!」". HuffingtonPost. 2015-12-15.
  6. ^ ""Gold" named 2016 Kanji of the Year".
  7. ^ "今年の漢字は「北」 その理由は?".

External linksEdit