Tag Archives: tax

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%!

Gorillas and cigarettes

2 Oct

Yesterday (October 1) was 「都民の日」 (“Tokyo Residents’ Day“).
So, schools in Tokyo were closed. My kids had the day off.
Also, 「都民の日」 (“Tokyo Residents’ Day“) is one of the three days every year that the zoos in Tokyo have free admission. So, since a new baby gorilla was recently born in 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo), my wife and daughters went to that zoo yesterday.

They told me that the new baby gorilla (named “Komomo“) is very cute.

Gorillas at Ueno Zoo (top). Mother, Momoko, and new baby Komomo (bottom pic)

Also, yesterday a hefty new cigarette tax went into effect across Japan.
The price of cigarettes just went up 40%! They were ¥300 (about US $3.60) for a pack…now they’re ¥410 (about US $4.95) per pack.

From the day it was announced about a month ago that there would be a 40% increase on tobacco tax on October 1st until one day before the tax took effect, there was a huge increase on sales of cartons of cigarettes all across Japan as smokers stockpiled cigarettes while they were still (relatively) cheap.

The Japanese government’s idea behind this tax hike is to try to motivate more people to quit smoking.

I hope it works. I don’t like cigarettes at all.
If an adult decides to smoke, even with the health dangers being well-known (and warnings printed on cigarette packs), that’s their decision.
But I hate “second-hand smoke”. I don’t smoke so I don’t like inhaling someone else’s “exhaust fumes”.

What do you think? Do you smoke? Do many people smoke in your country? How much do cigarettes cost where you live?

22.2.22 22:22 and 22°

22 Feb

On the Japanese calendar, it is currently the year 「平成22年」 (“Heisei 22“). (Click here to read my FAQ about the Japanese calendar.)
So that means today’s date is 平成22年2月22日 (Heisei 22/2/22).

And the current time in Japan is 10:22PM…or 22:22 (on the 24-hour clock).

And, I’m serious, I just looked at the thermometer in my house…the temperature (indoors) is 22°C.

So, it’s “Heisei 22 February 22 at 10:22PM and 22°C”…or “22.2.22 22:22 and 22°“! 😉

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On a different subject…
I saw a chart of the sales tax rates for 145 different countries around the world.

When I came to Japan, the sales tax here was 3%. But about six years later, it was increased to the current rate of 5%.
Around the same time, the Japanese government passed a law that stores and restaurants must display the “after tax” prices on everything they sell.
It’s very convenient. The price displayed on everything in stores in Japan is the price you pay…no need to calculate sales tax.

Anyways, according to this list…
Canada‘s sales tax is 5%, same as Japan.
South Korea and Australia have 10% sales tax,
China and Brazil have 17% tax,
England‘s is 17.5%,
Russia is at 18%,
Germany, Holland and Greece pay 19% sales tax,
France is 19.6%,
Italy has 20% sales tax,
and Sweden, Denmark and Norway have the world’s highest sales tax rate…25%!

What’s the sales tax rate where you live?
Is the cost of living high? Are salaries high too?