Really big numbers

An NHK easy news article used 1兆の40万 for 4*10^17 (400 quadrillions). According to wikipedia,
1兆 (ちょう)is 10^12,
1京 (けい or きゅう)is 10^16

So they could have written 1京の40 (40 * 10^16) instead of 1兆の40万 (400,000 * 10^12), which both give 4 * 10^17.

Why haven’t they?

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You’d write 40京, rather.

They didn’t, because although those higher numbers exist, it’s extremely rare to see anything larger than 兆.

You can see it in English, too - newsreaders are more likely to say “four thousand trillion dollars” than they are to say “four quadrillion dollars”.


It’s also more dramatic to say 400000 times [an already really huge number] than just [another really huge number], because people tend to have trouble imagining numbers over a certain size anyway.


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