An annual tradition in Japan is a national vote for the Japanese character, or kanji, that best represents that year. 2012 was ‘Gold’, symbolising a number of first-place finishes, such as the women’s World Cup and Tokyo Skytree’s completion as the world’s tallest tower; last year “Ring” was the highest-voted character, due to Tokyo’s successful 2020 Olympics bid. This year, however, the thousands of people who cast their votes seem to have been feeling far less jolly.
2014 saw Japan’s consumption tax rise from 5% to 8% (and another planned raise to 10% scrapped due to the first’s damaging effect on the economy), thus forming what appears to be the nation’s defining moment of the year. No winning Olympics bids, world-conquering footballers or 634m-high feats of engineering. Tax raises.
Second place went to ‘Fever’, most likely due to Ebola and the first domestic dengue fever outbreak in 65 years, while the STAP cell scandal resulted in ‘Lie’ Coming third. Tax, disease and lies – we hope you had a better 2014 than Japan, readers.