Best-selling Kojien dictionary expands nuclear terms in once-a-decade update via The Japan Times


Toru Kawahara, 46, at Iwanami Shoten proposed at a meeting just months after the Fukushima disaster that the publisher appoint an editor dedicated to reviewing and selecting nuclear terms.

He remembers saying, “Issues regarding nuclear plants are no longer restricted to experts in the field and people living near the plants.”

The proposal was accepted unanimously and Kawahara himself became the first to take the post.

He added about 20 new words to the upcoming edition including hairo,meaning to decommission a reactor, and anzen-shinwa (safety myth), describing the view once promoted by the government and power companies that atomic power is undoubtedly safe.

One of the key factors in selecting the new terms was “whether they will continue to be used” in years to come, he says.

Kawahara came up with 200 candidates, including words he saw in print and on the internet. He was surprised to learn that hairo had not been included.


He also knew that some of the terms he chose to add were not widely used. These included youso (iodine) and bento (venting).

Iodine pills help reduce radiation buildup in the thyroid in the event of a nuclear accident or incident. “I think it is good to tell people how they work and how they should take them in an emergency,” he said.

Venting is one of the terms that became widely known from the Fukushima crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., manager of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 complex, came under fire for a failed venting attempt that would have released pressure in the reactors. Instead, hydrogen explosions ensued, gutting the buildings housing them and contaminating the environment.

Since venting can cause radioactive releases into the environment, “I thought it is a term we must have as long as it concerns life-and-death situations people may encounter during evacuation,” Kawahara said.

He also contemplated adding kitaku konnan kuiki (difficult-to-return-to zones), the term for areas near the Fukushima plant where radiation remains unacceptably high. But he dropped it, concluding it would no longer be used once such designations are lifted.

Read more at Best-selling Kojien dictionary expands nuclear terms in once-a-decade update

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