2014 Kanji of the Year

15 Dec

Every December, a kanji (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen that represents the biggest news of the year that is just ending. It’s called 「今年の漢字」 (“The Kanji of the Year“).

Last Friday, the kanji of the year for 2014 was chosen. It’s 「」 (zei) which means “tax“.

Every year, when the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) is chosen, it’s presented to the public at a special ceremony at a temple in Kyoto where the head monk writes the character and it’s broadcast on TV, newspapers and the internet.

The Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字) for 2014 is 「税」 (“tax”).

The reason that this character was chosen to represent 2014 is because the sales tax in Japan was increased this year for the first time in years.

When I came to Japan in 1990, the sales tax here was 3%. (Until just a couple of years before I came to Japan there was no sales tax here at all!)
It stayed at 3% until 1997 when it was raised to 5% (that year, a law was also passed that the after-tax” price must be shown on all products).
Japan’s sales tax was 5% for seventeen years. It was increased to it’s current 8% last spring (thus the Kanji of the Year is “tax”).
The Japanese government plans to increase the sales tax again next year (in 2015) to 10%!

6 Responses to “2014 Kanji of the Year”

  1. Musings December 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Tax? I’ll have to tell my mom. Hmmmm…. Not Peace or Harmony or Happiness. Tax?


    • tokyo5 December 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      The kanji of the year is meant to reflect the year’s biggest news story … good or bad.


  2. CrazyChineseFamily December 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    so low sales tax ? We dream of that in Europe!! Finland has currently 24% and Germany is at 19% I think 🙂


    • tokyo5 December 15, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      I think 8% is high. Florida’s is still 5%, I believe.
      Some U.S. states have no sales tax.
      I’m not looking forward to Japan’s sales tax going up to 10% next year.

      Why is sales tax so high in Europe?


      • CrazyChineseFamily December 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

        With the taxation all kind of things are payed such as public health care, retirement funds and also education. In Finland for example students actually get few hundred euros a month when they go to university…


      • tokyo5 December 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

        So, good for residents … not so good for tourists though.


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