• Kyodo


Expressions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including “Abenomask,” “three Cs” and “self-restraint police,” comprised half of the 30 terms nominated as buzzword of the year for 2020, the award’s organizer said Thursday.

“So many new buzzwords — including using existing words in a unique way — have popped up that it wouldn’t have been strange if they were all related to the coronavirus,” a representative for the selection committee said.

The country’s top buzzword for this year will be announced Dec. 1, according to the organizer, publishing house Jiyukokuminsha.

An 'Abenomask' worn by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was one of the 30 buzzwords nominated as this year's top buzzword. | KYODO
An ‘Abenomask’ worn by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was one of the 30 buzzwords nominated as this year’s top buzzword. | KYODO

“Abenomask,” which means “Abe’s mask” in Japanese and is a pun on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s signature “Abenomics” economic policy mix, refers to the government distribution of two free washable cloth masks to all households in the nation as COVID-19 spread in late spring.

The initiative by Abe sparked criticism due to the poor quality of the masks, with many viewing them as a waste of taxpayers’ money and symbolic of the government’s inadequate response to the pandemic.

To help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the public also became familiar with “sanmitsu” (the three Cs) amid frequent calls to avoid confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.

Among the candidates were also less positive words such as “jishuku-keisatsu” (self-restraint police), used to refer to a group of civilian vigilantes who pressured others to shutter their businesses or avoid going out.

Meanwhile, new usage of existing words such as “workation” and “stay home” continued to demonstrate the immense impact the pandemic has made on working and living styles.

Buzzwords unrelated to the virus included the phrase “sōgō-teki, fukan-teki” or “a comprehensive and bird’s-eye view,” which has been used by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to explain his controversial rejection of six academics nominated to sit on a government advisory panel.

With its recently released animated movie breaking box office records, “Kimetsu no Yaiba,” the Japanese title for the blockbuster manga series “Demon Slayer,” was also selected as a candidate.

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