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Japan picks the character for 'disaster' to define 2018

Japan has chosen the character for 'disaster' to symbolise 2018. The public chose the symbol following a series of natural disasters. In July, 200 people died in floods and millions were evacuated from their homes, and mere days later 65 people died in a heatwave that hospitalised more than 20,000 people.  The country was also hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 and was rocked by its strongest typhoon for 25 years. These numerous natural disasters have had an adverse effect on the Japanese economy, and the country’s GDP has gradually shrunk over the last three months, by 1.2 per cent. The country also experienced societal problems this year, as stories of sexual harassment in the workplace and suicide rates came to light. Earthquake hits Japan's Hokkaido island, in pictures The master of the ancient temple in Kyoto, Seihan Mori, wrote the symbol for ‘disaster’ in dark ink on traditional white washi paper to mark the vote. The competition has been run by the Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation since 1995. In the annual poll, 21,000 of the 190,000 people who voted picked the character to summarise the years events, but the symbol for peace was a close runner-up. In 2017, Japan chose the character “North" after a series of North Korean missile launches. A year prior, the choice was "gold" in honour of successful Japanese athletes at the Rio Olympics.

Japan's post-earthquake recovery efforts

Reconstruction and cultural relief projects continue in Japan following the devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the island nation on March 11, 2011.