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‘Tax’ Takes Top Spot as Japan’s Kanji of the Year as Price Hikes Tighten Purse Strings

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Seihan Mori, the chief priest of Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto, draws the kanji of the year, “zei” (tax), at the temple on Tuesday afternoon.

The kanji for tax was announced as the kanji of 2023 at Kiyomizudera temple, a World Heritage site in Kyoto, on Tuesday.

The kanji of the year mirrors the social climate of each year and is chosen through public voting every December. Pronounced “zei,” tax was selected for the second time, with the other being in 2014 when the consumption tax rate was raised for the first time in 17 years.

2023 marks the 29th time for the Kyoto-based Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation to invite the public to make submissions for the kanji of the year. Of the 147,878 votes cast, the largest group with 5,976, or 4%, selected the kanji for tax.

The main reason for choosing the character is probably because various moves related to taxes occurred such as hikes in taxes on cigarettes and other items, debates arose over a reduction of income and other taxes by a fixed amount, and the introduction of a new invoice system in which the tax amount is specified per consumption tax rate for merchandise or a service.

The kanji for hot weather came in second at 3.8%, with the kanji for war third at 3.4%. The kanji for tiger ranked fourth at 3.2% as the Hanshin Tigers finished No. 1 in professional baseball.