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After a year in which Feb. 14 fell on a Sunday — and possibly two years of 在宅勤務 (zaitaku kinmu, working from home) due to the pandemic — women across Japan must be dreading the return of バレンタインデー (barentain dē, Valentine’s Day) at the office.

Why, might you ask, has a collective sigh of relief turned into, well, just a plain old chorus of sighs? It all comes down to the practice of giving out 義理チョコ (giri choko, obligatory chocolates).

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