I'm not quite wrapping up the year on a personal note. Rather, we have reached that time of the year where various media outlets offer their summaries, their 'one word' that sums up the year in politics and society. In Japan, there are two in particular that are anticipated: the kanji (Japanese/Chinese character) of the year, and the word of the year. I will also add, this year, an award-winning photograph of the year, 'The Okinawa Gaze' (沖縄の視線)．
Each of these awards speak to the sense of unease and uncertainty surrounding Prime Minister Abe and his government.
Source: Kyoto Shimbun, 12 December 2017
The kanji is drawn live on TV and written by revered calligrapher Mori Seihan, Chief Buddhist priest at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. The character remains on display for a few weeks.
The word of the year award, announced a couple of weeks ago was the word sontaku (忖度）. It is a word that tends to defy simple definition but it is one of those words that 'when it happens, you know it' as Japanese people seem to translate it. It suggests a request (kind of inferred, but stronger) will be met, without the request (or demand) being formally made (or spoken). It gained popularity during the year in light of a couple of scandals which continue to linger, and which continue to stalk Prime Minister Abe. Both involve educational institutions which have received favourable and extraordinary treatment from the government, implicating in particular Prime Minister Abe and his wife, Akie. The new opposition parties have vowed to continue to seek accountability on these deals in the new year, when parliament returns.
|Taken on 23 June 2017, Sawada Masato|
Source: Tokyo Shimbun, online, 25 November 2017