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Japan to Replace Entire Written Language with Emojis

April 1, 2017 — by Per Christensson

Japan to Replace Entire Written Language with EmojisJapan, a land steeped in tradition, but also known for its technological progress, has just made a stunning announcement. The Japanese language will be completely replaced by emojis.

Japan's language overseer, Iwao Suzuki, made the announcement on the first day of the month, saying, "The leadership of Japan has unanimously voted to use emojis as our primary written language going forward." He said, "We have been planning this change for several years and we believe now is the right time."

Instead of using complex symbols to depict words and phrases, Japanese people will simply be able to tap emojis on a keyboard. For example, "love" can now be written with a simple heart emoji instead of the complicated Kanji character, as shown below.

❤️ vs 愛

"It makes a lot of sense," said Miku Mitsubishi, a Japanese reporter who has been following the developments over the past several years. "Japanese is such a tricky language. You have three different written scripts – hiragana, katakana, and kanji – just for one language. It's too much." She explained, "If we're going to simplify the language to one writing system, emojis is the logical choice."

The announcement coincides with the upcoming release of Unicode 10.0, the new character set coming this summer, that will include over 2,000 emojis (up from the 1,851 existing ones in Unicode 9.0). Apparently, 2,000 emojis was the threshold where Japanese officials felt it was safe to move to an entirely emoji-based language.

When asked how he felt about the change, Japanese official Yuji Kawasaki gave this written statement:


While many Japanese people are thrilled with the change, others have expressed reservations. 80-year-old Kayoko Honda said, "I spent years learning the Japanese language. I don't feel like starting over. ☹️" Hayata Toyota stated, "I guess this marks the end of the pen and paper for Japan." He continued, "We'll all have to use electronic devices just to communicate. I guess we're already doing that, but still."

In an effort to keep Japanese culture and heritage alive for future generations, the educational panel has made an effort to keep some traditional writing classes in the curriculum. For example, all students will be required to take "Emoji Calligraphy" before graduating from high school.