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While the COVID-19 pandemic soared across the world and changed the political dynamics on a global scale, Japan was viewed by some news sources as a “miracle” exception that beat the anticipated projections by experts of how the virus would affect the nation. Though there are a number of potential guesses about Japan’s initial pandemic outcome, which include low numbers of testing, an existing culture of mask-wearing, sanitation, and certain degree of social distancing, the political environment and communication from the government have also been accredited to the so-called “success” of Japan’s pandemic experience. By using the concept of ideograph, this study rhetorically analyzes the key slogan that emerged from Japanese political discourse surrounding the COVID-19 situation: 3つの密 - Mittsu no Mitsu (The Three Cs). Specifically, the authors conclude the ways in which < Three Cs > function as a negative ideograph in this specific rhetorical context. By doing so, the authors argue that this slogan that stems from political discourse became culture-bound and serves as a present-day ideological construction in the form of an ideograph for collective governance to (un)justify certain behaviors.


Frontiers in Communication doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2021.595429