|Sign: 在日米軍基地 "US Military Base in Japan"|
The kanji 米 (Bei) used to mean "The United States of America" in
words like beikoku (
The reason Japanese uses the "me" kanji (米) of Amerika rather than the 'a' one (亜) may be because Japanese uses 亜 as an abbreviation of Asia, from its kanji writing 亜細亜 (Ajia).
Some other countries are similarly often written as a single kanji, especially in newspaper headlines and other abbreviated words.
|Kanji abbreviation||Full kanji writing||Country name in rōmaji||Country name in English|
|英||英吉利||Igirisu||England / United Kingdom|
|米||亜米利加||Amerika||United States of America|
|蘭||和蘭||Oranda||Holland / The Netherlands|
The names "Igirisu" for the United Kingdom and "Yōroppa" for Europe originate from Portuguese. See Which Japanese words come from Portuguese?
Chinese and Korean use the character for beauty, 美国, for the
USA. The rice kanji, 米, also has the connotation of "metres" in
Japanese, in words like heibei (
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