TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Tuesday (Dec 12) chose the Chinese character for "North" as its traditional "defining symbol of 2017" following a series of North Korean missile launches.
Japanese TV stations went live to broadcast the annual announcement, in which Seihan Mori, master of the ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, wrote the character on a huge white panel using an ink-soaked calligraphy brush.
"It was the year in which people felt threatened and anxious by North Korea following repeated ballistic missile launches and a nuclear test," said the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, the event organiser.
At the end of every year, the general public votes for a Chinese character they think embodies the key news and events of the previous 12 months.
A total of 7,104 people out of 153,594 voted for the character "North".
A 38-year-old woman from northern Fukushima prefecture who voted for the character said she was "constantly scared of North Korean missiles".
"Our generation never experienced war... What if a missile actually falls on Japan? It is horrifying," she said, according to the organiser.
Last year, Japan picked "gold" to celebrate the success of Japanese athletes winning gold medals at the Rio Olympics.
Chinese characters, or Kanji, are widely used in Japanese, along with other types of alphabets.