The year 2018 is coming to an end. For some people it was a great year, and for other people it wasn't so great. In Japan, an organization conducted a survey to ask people for the word they thought best described 2018. The winner of this survey was the word "disaster". The kanji (Chinese character) that Japanese people chose means "disaster or misfortune". The organization said people chose the kanji for disaster because of the many natural disasters to hit Japan in 2018. Japan was hit by deadly typhoons, earthquakes, heavy rains that caused widespread destruction, and a killer heatwave. Hundreds of people lost their lives in these disasters and many roads and homes were destroyed.
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The organization is called the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation. It has conducted a "word of the year" survey annually since 1995. This year, it received suggestions from 193,214 people. The second most popular kanji was the character for "peace". Last year, "north" was the winner. This was because of increasing tensions over North Korea's nuclear tests. The rest of the world was also hit by devastating natural disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes and tsunami. Wars also raged across the world, especially in Syria and Yemen. There was also a lot of suffering because of immigration - people trying to move to other countries to find a new life. People hope the next kanji will be "happiness".