Over 50 percent of respondents in the latest language poll conducted by the Cultural Affairs Agency reported using icons known as "emojis" and other text representations of emotions.
The figure was included in the fiscal 2015 "Public Opinion Poll on the Japanese Language," released by the agency on Sept. 21.
The results showed that 56.1 percent of respondents "had used emojis before," 29 percent "had seen emojis before but never used them," and 12.7 percent "had never seen emojis before." The Cultural Affairs Agency hypothesized that "compared to face-to-face communication, there is a concern that emotions will not be properly conveyed in communication through digital devices, and the use of emojis as a supplement alleviates this worry" as a possible explanation for the increased use of emojis across generations.
With the expansion of social networking services like the free messaging application "Line," the use of shortened sentences is increasing, and sentences with emojis are referred to as a type of "uchi-kotoba" (typed language), a term referring to abbreviated expressions that are used in conversations on a computer or mobile phone, said the agency.
The poll was introduced in 1995 and is carried out annually as a means of investigating the awareness and level of understanding of the Japanese people regarding language. A total of 3,589 people aged 16 and older nationwide were interviewed for the latest poll in February and March 2016 and 1,959 people, or 54.6 percent of subjects, responded. This year marked the first time that the use of emojis and expressions using symbols was included in the opinion poll.