What’s Seigi Man (“Justice Man”) in Japanese?
正義マン (せいぎまん, seigi man) is a relatively new slang term which literally means “justice man”. It is a derogatory term for “do-gooders” or “sanctimonious moralists” who are always looking for someone to abuse for doing something immoral or unethical — no matter how trivial they are — just to show off their moral superiority. Presumably, most of them also act as “自粛警察” (“self-restraint police”).
Japan’s New Controversial Tax System
This word became popular when Japan’s new consumption tax system was introduced in October 2019, which taxes takeout meals at 8% and dining out at 10%. This rule applies to every single store that serves food in Japan, which includes fast-food restaurants and even food court shops. This means that, if you take out food at a food court, the tax rate stays at 8%, whereas if you buy food to eat at a table in the food court, you ought to pay the extra 2% upon your order for the “fine-dining” option.
What’s イートイン脱税 (“Eat-in Tax Evasion”)
A more ambiguous and controversial case than the food court example above is when you buy food at a convenience store and eat them at its tiny “eat-in” space, which is located at the corner of the store (with or without chairs) and can accommodate only a couple of people. As in the food court case, you’re supposed to pay the 10% tax if you intend to “dine-in” at a convenience store — however if you buy food as takeout and then “change your mind” and eat them at the eat-in space, the tax is calculated as 8%. This way of circumventing the extra tax is called イートイン 脱税 (“eat-in tax evasion”) in Japanese, which, however, is rather an ethical issue since nobody has ever been charged for it.
Soon after the tax system was introduced, there have been some people who roll up their sleeves to find someone who does the “eat-in tax evasion”, and joyfully snitch to the staff at a convenience store about their behaviour. The word 正義マン (“justice man”) then come into popular use to describe those people who do this kind of moralistic behaviour, which they argue is “a fight for justice”.
While those “justice men” are clearly quite irksome, the people who deserve the most criticism are clearly those who decided to introduce such an unduly complicated and ambiguous tax system in Japan.
自粛警察 (jishuku keisatsu): “COVID Self-Restraint Police” in Japan
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