After quakes and flooding, Japan picks 'disaster' as 2018 symbol

December 12, 2018
Seihan Mori, master of Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, wrote the character on a huge white panel with an ink-soaked calligraphy brush

Japan on Wednesday selected the Chinese character for "disaster" as its "defining symbol" for 2018, a year that saw the country hit by deadly floods, earthquakes and storms.

Japanese TV stations broadcast the annual announcement live, with Seihan Mori, master of the ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, writing the character on a huge white panel with an ink-soaked calligraphy brush.

"Many people experienced the threat of natural such as earthquakes, heavy rain, typhoons and heatwaves," the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, which organises the event, said in a press release.

At the end of every year, the general public votes for the Chinese character they think embodies the key news and events of the previous 12 months.

A total of 20,858 people out of 193,214 chose the character "disaster".

The country was hit by a series of natural disasters in 2018, starting with massive flooding in western regions that killed over 200 people.

It was also battered by a typhoon that inundated a major international airport, and an earthquake in the north that triggered landslides and disrupted supply lines.

An "unprecedented" heatwave also struck the country over the summer, causing more than 150 deaths, with over 80,000 people hospitalised.

The series of disasters hit GDP, with the country's economy shrinking in the three months to September.

"I was reminded of how scary natural disasters are," said a 42-year-old woman from quake-battered northern Hokkaido, who was cited in a statement from the organiser.

"The power went out immediately after the quake and I spent days for the first time without electricity," she said.

Last year, Japan picked "North" following a series of North Korean missile launches, and the year before the choice was "gold", in celebration of the success of Japanese athletes at the Rio Olympics.

Chinese characters, or Kanji, are widely used in Japanese, along with other types of alphabets.

Explore further: String of disasters exacts heavy damage, human toll in Asia

Related Stories

String of disasters exacts heavy damage, human toll in Asia

October 1, 2018

A recent string of natural disasters, the latest a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, have exacted a severe toll both in economic damage and human lives throughout Asia. The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, ...

Four dead after typhoon batters Japan

October 1, 2018

Four people have been killed in a powerful typhoon that battered Japan over the weekend, local media reported Monday, as the storm's aftermath brought travel chaos to Tokyo.

Recommended for you

Afromontane forests and climate change

January 17, 2019

In the world of paleoecology, little has been known about the historical record of ecosystems in the West African highlands, especially with regard to glacial cycles amidst a shifting climate and their effects on species ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.