TOKYO: Sometimes, when Japanese academics select the single written character that best captures the essence of the year gone by, there are surprises.
In 2020, there could only be one choice: Mitsu, meaning “close”, “intimate” or “dense”.
The selection attests to a word whose usage has been recast by COVID-19. Nearly a year into the pandemic, the process of that recasting has been vital.
It places Japan in a group with Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and China, as theories form about the societal factors that might have contributed to keeping their infection and death rates comparatively low.