Expressions related to the coronavirus pandemic, including "Abenomask," "3Cs" and "self-restraint police," comprised half of the 30 buzzwords nominated to take the top prize 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," the selection committee said.
The country's top buzzword for this year will be announced Dec. 1, according to the organizer, publishing house Jiyukokuminsha.
"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 Japan amid the pandemic.
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 novel coronavirus, the public also became familiar with the "3Cs" -- an oft-cited call to avoid confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.
Among the candidates were also less positive words such as "self-restraint police," used to refer to a group of civilian vigilantes who pressured others to suspend 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 left on working and living styles.
Buzzwords unrelated to the virus included the phrase "a comprehensive and bird's-eye view," which has been used by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to explain his controversial rejection of six academics from sitting 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.